Adventures In Running

Monday, June 29, 2009

Logan Peak Trail Run 2009

I was reading Davy Crockett's blog history the other week and noticed a race he had done last year called the Logan Peak Trail Run. It caught my attention because it was A) not too far away and B) less than 50 miles. I went to the website and started looking at the map and elevation profile and mentally said - "No Way! That sucker has way too much uphill!"

Logan Peak Trail Run map

Logan Peak Trail Run elevation profile

However, the race teased at my mind for several days and I finally gave in last Tuesday and decided to see if I could still register. On Wednesday I found that I could still enter if my registration made it to Logan by Friday. After sending off my registration, I called my aunt up in Logan and asked if I could spend the night at her house before the race so I didn't have a 2 hour drive that morning.

Friday night I got to Logan and was interested to find that I was mentally psyching myself into a tizzy (all technical terms) about the elevation. It was very scary to me because I knew this would be my most challenging race ever. Luckily, my aunt lived a little less than a mile from the starting line - so I didn't have to go too far on race morning.

I headed up at 5:20 on race morning and was delighted to see my friend, Clark Hirshi, in the parking lot. Gave him a hug and visited a little before picking up my race packet. I also said hello to Jim Skaggs, Matt (aka Twinkies) from the FastRunningBlog, and Kyle and Lindsay Lauck (Lindsay and I were planning on encouraging each other during the uphills). I also saw Paul and Celeste Collman and wished them well.

At 5:50 a.m., the race director gave us some last minute information, walked us down to the starting line and counted down to the start of the race. We were off! The first half mile or so was on road and uphill, so I quickly fell into my place near the back of the pack. I introduced myself to Cole and Ray - two guys that we would play leapfrog with for the first half of the race (we were fighting over last place).

The race left pavement and turned on to the Bonneville Shoreline Trail. As the racers turned the fenceline onto the trail I was able to see all 70+ runners in front of me - for one last time. Shortly after getting onto the BST, I caught up to Lindsay and Ryan and we ran together for another half mile or more until Ryan said goodbye and took off at his own pace.

Lindsay and I were soon all alone heading up the hills. We knew we had a lot of uphill to face all day, so for the first 5 miles, mainly race walked as fast as we could. We were sucking air most of the time and knew it was going to be a long, long day. We could hear two guys behind us and around mile 3.5 they finally passed us. I was kind of glad, because Ray was a talker. Granted, his stories were interesting about Adventure Races, but I was kind of annoyed at the non-stop talking.

It was a great sight to finally get to the first aid station (which would later be the final aid station) a little before mile 5. I was wearing my Nathan running pack with 50 oz of water and at this point had my handheld bottle filled with Heed. Ate some fruit and packed my front pocket with M&Ms and peanuts and we headed off. At this altitude we were getting pretty cold, so kept our pace up. A little after mile 5 we were able to get to some sections of flats and downhills and ran all of them.

Right around mile 7 we hit the first snow patch. It was only about 7 feet across, but this patch was total ice and no way to dig in. Just before I got across my feet slipped out from under me and I fell hard on my butt (later I found a huge bruise and some cuts from this fall). Lost my handheld and sunglasses, but the sweeper behind threw them across to me. Lindsay pulled a little ahead on the downhill sections and then I would reel her in on the uphills. Cole and Ray would pass us on the uphills, then we would pass them again on the downhill/flat sections.

After several easier miles we started hitting the next big uphill sections. It was always nice to get any relatively flat sections, just to give our lungs a break.

At mile 11.5 we hit the next aid station and I was able to say hi to Matt/Twinkies who had just finished the out and back section. The next six miles was the out and back. During this section I was able to say hi to Jim Skaggs, Celeste Collman and then Paul Collman along with other runners as we cheered each other on. During the next six miles we had to cross several snow fields and lots more fun uphills.

The one snowfield was so steep that I finally just sat down and buttskiied to the bottom. It was actually quite fun and I could use my feet for steering. Other fields were less steep and we could run/walk across them 'slip sliding away.'

There was a couple of jeeps that drove up towards the tower that was the turnaround point. They set up an unofficial aid station that I would visit on the way down.

It was nice to see the tower finally getting close. One last killer uphill push along the edge of the snowfield and I made it. I touched the tower at 4:52 - just under the 5 hour mark that I was hoping to beat. I waited for Lindsay to make it to the top and we took pictures of each other. Ray had told me that Cole decided to skip the out and back (we were told it was an option) and do a shorter race.

Lindsay Lauck celebrating the tower touch

Enjoying the view and catching my breath

After refueling and rearranging our packs, we headed on down for the second half of the race. I said goodbye to Lindsay since I knew she was fresher and faster on the downhills and figured we wouldn't see each other again. (I did see her about a quarter mile ahead until mile 21 and then lost her after that).

Down through the snowhills again. I was able to follow some good tracks off to the side and avoid the slipperiest sections and stay out of a lot of the mud. I was using hands and feet to get up the steep section I had slid down before and saw lots of hand prints from others that had done the same before me.

Stopped quickly at the unofficial aid station and then back to the previous aid station and I headed around the next side of the mountain. It would have been nice to think I was done with uphills, but I knew there were a lot ahead of me.

On the other loop around the mountain, I continued to run all the downhills. I struggled a little more on the flats, but would force myself to run as much as I could (or trot or jog).

At mile 18 I was hit hard with a death march. There was just no energy there. I tried increasing my fluids, snacks, gels, etc. and knew that it would pass - but while you are in the middle of one of these episodes, it is hard to think logically. I kept thinking it ironic that Michael Jackson (who had just died) songs were coming on at the same time I was tempted to lie down on the side of the trail and curl up and die. Finally, around mile 21 the energy came back and I was able to think positively again and move better.

Meadow run after the end of the death march

I stopped at a spring and had a quick drink and wet down my arms and hat since the sun was full on me and draining energy.

Was very surprised and pleased to see the last aid station suddenly come upon me. I sat in a chair for 5 minutes to regroup. They kept bringing me lots of fruit and I actually drank my first full cup of Coke in my life. Anything was welcome at this point in time.

Started down the hill. I had nothing left but would force myself to cautiously run the downhills everywhere I could. I was afraid of face planting and couldn't relax enough to just let gravity pull me down the slopes.

As I came down through the mouth of the canyon it was interesting to hear two songs in a row come on my iPod - 'Champion' by Queen Latifah and 'Anyway' by Martina McBride and both of these songs were very appropriate and motivational and helped me move on.

Back on the Bonneville Shoreline Trail I had to slug it out over 3 more small uphills. I could see the park where we finished down below and knew I was going to make it at this point in time. Back on the pavement I hoped I was taking the correct turns. They had removed the course markers, but I was able to find my way back to the finish line. As I turned off the road and onto the sidewalk and uphill slope to the end, I was crying from the relief/stress of finishing this run.

It felt Soooooo Good to quit moving. Final time: 9 hours 14 minutes (I beat the 10 hour cutoff). Ryan and Lindsay had stayed to cheer me across and I enjoyed saying hi to them. Ray had gotten lost on the snowfields and finished about 5 minutes after I did.

I now have a coffee mug to show that I finished this tough course.

Forced a little food into me and went back to my aunt's house and took a shower and laid down for a little bit. The drive home was very nauseating and it didn't help that the freeway was closed with an accident. I finally found I could cope with the air conditioning blasting full on me while I drove (so much for not having windows in the jeep).

Sunday I was hurting pretty bad. It seemed to actually get worse during the day. Monday, the legs are not hurting as bad - but I think I picked up some small bug - or else it is exhaustion because I still feel like I was hit by a truck.

Will I do it again? Not sure. I would like to improve my hill running and endurance and prove that I can better my time - there is lots of improvement available. I learned a lot during the day and am proud of finishing and surviving. Right now - all I want to do is rest.


Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Jeremy Ranch Road

I took a day off from work to do a long run up in Park City. The best laid plans often tend to backfire and the first change to my plans came as I was getting ready to head out the door. Work had an emergency and needed me to come in and fix it. By the time I finished the project, it was going to be noon at the start of my run - on a day predicted to be in the 90's. The second change in plan came because I finally was able to contact the race director for the Logan Peak Trail Run next Saturday and found I could still register for the race - so wasn't going to do as much mileage on my day off.

Drank as much liquid as I could force in on the drive up to Park City since I knew it was going to be very hot and I was only carrying about 70 oz of fluids.

I ran this road during the winter with Leslie Peterson. It goes from Jeremy Ranch into the next county and ends up (I believe) in Emigration Canyon. During the winter it was snow packed and icy. Those same conditions didn't exist today. As you can see from the above picture, in the summer, the road is dirt and I mainly shared it with sheep, cyclists, and some trucks/cars/motorcycles.

It was a pretty, sunny day out and I just put on my iPod and listened to the book The Forgotten 500 to help pass time. I ran all but the worst uphills on the way out. Talked to a large herd of sheep at about mile 3, just after crossing the county line. Luckily the bugs weren't bad and the area around me was very green from all the recent rain.

My plan for the day was 15 miles, so reached the end of the road just after mile 7 and continued on the paved road until 7.5 and then turned around. On the return trip, I could definitely feel the heat sapping me. When I did this route in the winter, I easily ran the entire return trip and then continued on down towards Park City. The hills were just too much in the heat, so walked a good section of uphills in the last 5-7 miles - worrying about running out of water. I stopped at a couple of stream crossings and wet down my arms and head and hat - but was afraid to drink the water with a big race coming up.

Ran out of water with only a half mile to go. I was not dehydrated, but could have used another 20 ounces or so if I had wanted to run the return route. Also - starting late in the heat of the day was a big mistake - but sometimes you just have to make do the best you can.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Mueller Park Trail with the Front

On June 23rd, I joined met a trail running group (Dirt Tours with the Front) and ran the lower half of the Mueller Park Trail in Bountiful. We ran the 3.4 miles up to Elephant Rock and back. I was able to meet Matt (aka Twinkies) from the FastRunningBlog and he mentioned he was doing the Logan Peak Trail Run next Saturday.

I ended up running the first 2 ½ miles with Lindsay Lauck who was there with her husband Ryan and their puppy. Lindsay and I were talking about the Logan Peak run and I think we both talked ourselves into doing it because we had similar speed and would be able to support each other during the uphill sections. After Lindsay and Ryan turned around I continued up the trail to the Elephant Rock turnaround and then enjoyed the run back down.

The canyon was nice and green and you had to dodge some bikers – but not as many as other runs up there. I did meet up with two dirt bikers and didn't particularly enjoy the racket of their engines up there in the mountains.

About ½ mile before the end of the trail I rounded a corner and scared a deer that was on the trail about 5 feet in front of me (I think she was more scared than me). She bounded off, but was a pretty sight to see.

Driving down towards the freeway I was also treated to a beautiful sunset over the Great Salt Lake. The sun was going down right between Antelope Island and Freemont Island and I was able to enjoy the view the entire drive down. God has sure created some beautiful things in nature and I am sure lucky enough to get to experience some of them first hand.

Monday, June 22, 2009

That’s Not It

I borrowed this true story from another runner on my FastRunningBlog. This applies to so many things in life – but this coach expressed why so many of us keep on trucking (or running) even though we may never win a race or take home a trophy.

I hope that my own children learned this lesson. My daughter finally got 'it' when she took up the violin. My son took a while longer, but I saw that he got 'it' when doing weight training and training for his first marathon at age 17.

Last week, we had a Mom come to us and "inform us" that her 13-year-old daughter would be gone for two weeks vacation in late June, maybe another week after that.

Her daughter was not much of an age group swimmer, but she has some endurance capacity and comes regularly to workout at 5:30 am and again at 5:30 pm daily. She works hard, demonstrates little talent, but lots of determination.

Her mother is not athletic and clearly does not value athletics. We expressed our dismay that she'd be missing for 2-3 weeks in the middle of the most important training of the summer. Her mother's response?

"Who cares, she'll never be an Olympic swimmer, so what does it matter really?"

This is a dagger in the heart to any swimming coach, and it is to me.

If we only cared about and worked hard with, those 52 people who will eventually, once every four years, go off to the Olympic Games, it would be a small, empty and meaningless sport.

My response was "That's really not it."

What is it?

It is the fact that young people need to learn to dedicate themselves to something that is difficult, something that requires perseverance, guts and the daily determination to get your butt out of bed and go out and push your body till it can't go anymore.

Why do they need to learn this?

Because their lives are too easy, too soft, too catered-for. Too many people carry them, make excuses for them, never allowing them to try to be "heroic." Is it "heroic" to get your butt out of bed and go swim at 5 am? It is if you haven't done it before. Is it heroic to "make" 10x200 fly on 4:00? It is if you haven't ever done it before. Is it heroic to finish your swim and turn around and cheer for the teammate who is even further behind than you are, and is struggling to make the set? Need I say it? It is if you've never done it before.

And that is what "It" is about. About doing what you haven't done before. And learning that sometimes you succeed. Sometimes you fail. If you fail, you go again until you learn to succeed.

It's not about being an Olympian. It's about being Olympian. Learning to be a hero.

And what it takes to learn that.

Or, you can Be Comfortable and teach your child that it's more important to be Comfortable.

So, if that's your choice, I only have one question?

What will happen to your child on the day when they are made "uncomfortable" by life?

Maybe I can use those Compression shorts after all…

I was reading another blog I follow and the author mentioned using his Compression gear for recovery purposes.

After my fiasco with the DNF at the Buffalo Run 50 Mile race because some expensive compression shorts appear to have caused IT Band issues in my left leg, I stuffed the expensive shorts in the back of a drawer vowing to never run in them again (or until I was a size 2 – which will never happen). However, I now think I will try wearing the compression shorts as well as my compression socks for recovery purposes on days when I have run longer than 13 miles and see if they will help with my recovery.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Why can’t we all get along?

This past week has seen some debates being started in another blog that I belong to where an elite runner has openly expressed his disdain/contempt for several things that I feel strongly about:

  • Ultramarathoners vs. road racers
  • Finisher's medals for marathons
  • Age Group rankings and awards
  • Running for the sheer joy of running

This particular runner lives his life totally around running and cannot understand that the normal human being does not have that ability. We deal with work, family, injury, church, life, working out, in addition to training for races.

I have met some incredible athletes and friends through running and blogging - and will always be grateful for that. I think 95% of us either have the goal of improving ourselves and our running times or else maintaining our fitness for the rest of our lives. We challenge ourselves to better times, increase distances, feel stronger….

It saddens me that there are actually runners out there who feel contempt for those who do not have their talents, genes, ambitions or drive. Luckily – these seem to be in the minority.

It gladdens me to meet those that are supportive, understanding and willing to share their knowledge without taking it personally if a person determines that something does not necessarily work for them.

A big thank you to my running friends who cheer me on, say kind words, and understand what it takes to continue to do this day after day without ever having a chance to win a race, place in my age group, or perhaps achieve my dream goal of qualifying for Boston. You know that I keep trying and that I am an athlete, even if I don't fit the typical 'athlete' mold.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Good Fans/Bad Fans

Anyone who has entered a long race can tell you that sometimes the supporters/fans can make a world of difference. In my race last Saturday I saw examples of both types of fans and think we can all learn from them.

Good Fans: Michelle Lowry is an injured elite runner. She took second place in the St. George Marathon in 2008 and is incredibly gifted. Unfortunately, she has been experiencing some injuries in her hip/SI area this year and it has become debilitating enough that she is relying on crutches to get around and sometimes even a wheelchair. I can only imagine how frustrating this must be for someone of her talent and yet she took three hours out of her Saturday to come and cheer on fellow runners in the Utah Valley Marathon. As Marion McLellan and I approached Mile 6, we saw an excited woman in a blue jacket yelling and screaming at us. Just to make sure we didn't miss her, she brandished her crutches in the air and we knew we had found Michelle. She had a poster cheering on the FRB (FastRunningBlog) runners and waited until the last ones she knew (us) arrived. We gave her a quick thank you and hug (we weren't racing after all and a hug can do a world of good) and then headed on. A mile or so later, she passed us once again in her van honking, cheering and waving. Michelle continued on the course cheering on runners and watching the elite women finish. Thank you, Michelle.

Bad Fans: Marion was really struggling physically and emotionally the last couple of miles. After Kelli Stephenson joined us (and Mandi – Marion's sister-in-law), somewhere before the last mile we saw a guy sitting on the side of the road with his finisher's medal. Trying to motivate Marion, I said, "In just a short while you will be wearing one of those." Instead of being encouraging, this jerk (calling him a gentleman would be wrong), waved his medal back and forth chanting and jeering – "I've got one and you don't". I strongly considered going back and choking him with his medal. It was probably the worst show of sportsmanship I have ever seen at a race.

Thank you to family and friends who have cheered me on at races in the past 6 years. You have no idea how much it means to me.

And – Boston/medal guy – may you pull an important muscle in your next big race and have to DNF….

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Utah Valley Marathon

The Utah Valley Marathon is in its second year and was added as part of the 2009 Grand Slam, so I had lots of running friends entered in this race. My friend Marion McLellan was running this as her first marathon and I had volunteered to pace her through the entire race and also be her sherpa - carrying her Gu's, taking pictures, reminding her of when to eat and drink, motivating her, etc.

Yesterday was a busy day with Marion texting me, talking with Marion, emailing Marion - Sherpa duties are tough LOL

After dropping off the puppy, I headed down to Provo. I got to the mall for packet pickup and was shocked to see the line going on and on. That is probably the biggest flaw in the marathon - they were not prepared for so many people and it was a little frustrating to be on my feet in line for an hour and during the dinner hour. About halfway through my wait, Anna Lisa and Smooth (Suzanna) each came along with spouses, so I let them cut in line since we were all going to dinner together.

Smooth and hubby, Anna Lisa and hubby and Marion and hubby and I visited while waiting for a table at Brick Oven. About the time our dinner came, Josse, her sister and Luz joined us and we all squished together.

By the way - I am now going to be Miles on the Fast Running Blog according to Marion. She found out yesterday or the day before that my maiden name is Miles - so she says it is my running name.

Marathon morning: As I left my Dad's house at 4:15 this morning, Marion called and was already waiting at the mall. She was afraid to fall asleep, so got up and left. I picked up Luz at her house and Marion, Smooth, Luz, DonGardinero/Dale and I rode the bus up together. I found out Luz forgot her Garmin, so let her use my backup Timex watch (double sherpa duties). We had the world's slowest bus on the uphills - thought we might need to get out and push it.

The start was well organized. There was a 'kick bike' race starting 15 minutes before ours. That was different. Davy Crockett came over and introduced himself and wished us well. We also saw Sasha Pachev, Steve Ashbaker, and Mary Anne. Josse and Don Gardinero joined us for the start.

We were running down the canyon on the highway - with the right lane blocked off. There was a good mix of uphill and downhill stretches and only about 8 miles of this portion was concrete and it was not too bad. My goal for this marathon was to finish a race uninjured this year and to get Marion through her first marathon. She is quite an awesome woman.

Here are our first 5 miles: 11:50, 11:23, 11:39, 11:34. 11:50. Marion wanted to stay over 10:30 on the downhill sections and I would rein her in if she started going faster. Oh - Marion yelled at the first mile markers and we honked and flashed our lights during the tunnel.

At mile 6 it was a great break to see a crazy woman in a blue jacket yelling at us and waving her crutches. Michelle Lowry had waited for us slowpokes and had a FRB sign to cheer people on. I know this had to be killing her to not be running, but it was so sweet of her to be there for all of us runners. Michelle is an elit runner that has been battling a SI injury and cannot move without pain right now. We gave her a big, sweaty hug and then waved a few minutes later when she drove by honking. The canyon was definitely different than on the trail that we usually see and it was nice to have different views. We waved at the buses heading up to their 10 mile race, but people were pretty boring on the buses.

Miles 6-10: 11:42, 10:52, 11:34, 11:19, 12:10

Miles 11-15: 11:14, 11:56, 11:41, 12:18, 12:02 It was nice to be out of the canyon and we saw some different sections of the parkway trail that we had not seen before. I had started out with the plan of running 9 minutes, walking 1 minute, but my Sherpa duties were frazzling my mind (I twittered our position at miles 5, 10 and half marathon) and switched to running ahead at each mile marker and then doing a walk until Marion caught up.

Miles 16-20: 12:08, 12:17, 12:29, 12:32, 12:01 At mile 16 we called Mindy (Marion's sister-in-law) to give her a heads up. She was joining us a mile 21. There were a couple of poorly marked miles in this section. We went from being almost 2/10 of a mile behind on our Garmins on the mile markers to way ahead at one point and then back on. Learned the hard way to keep moving because the skeeters were nasty buggers. We were glad to see the end of the ups and downs going under the road. About Mile 18 I noticed that Marion's breathing was getting a little stressed and her footfalls a little heavier. She never once complained and kept on moving on out. We called Kelli after 18 to let her know where we were and check on Scott. We did find it got significantly hotter when we were on Center Street and did not have the shade from the trees. I started trying to throw out the occasional joke and story to keep Marion off her misery.

Miles 21-25: 12:27, 13:33, 12:36, 12:52, 12:25 Mindy met us at 21 with Reese's PB Cups and helped with the entertaining. Occasionally Marion would request gossip or stories. I had warned her about how her body and breathing would feel and hope that helped prepare her for the unknown. Kelli (back from multiple finishes with different bloggers) met us at 24 and was able to give Marion a good motivation and update on what was up ahead. We did mug a little cub scout to get some water at about 23.5 (LOL). Marion's breathing got really stressed at 24, but she kept running and only walked at aid stations.

Miles 26: 11:23 The last mile was a struggle, but we kept the pace up and Marion did a great job of finishing. We crossed the line together after starting together. I was honored to help her through her 18 mile run, 20 mile run and first marathon. She is a marathon virgin no more and will kick my butt in her next race. Final time (not yet official) was 5:14:50.

Overall - a well organized and scenic race. I would definitely do this one again. I ran pain free, and while I was tired at the end, I had plenty of energy left. My pushing ahead at each mile gave me indication that I had more in my legs, so I think I will definitely be able to break 5 hours in my next marathon and possibly 4:50 by the end of the season.


Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Running in the Mud with God

Last night I was going to join a trail running group on a run up the Pipeline Trail. As I headed out for the run, it was an absolute downpour and I wondered if anyone would actually show up. The rain was heavy enough I actually put the Jeep into 4-wheel drive because of the depth of the water on the freeway and side roads.

When I got to the trailhead, I was the only runner there. I had on a new pair of trail running shoes and I was (strangely enough) looking forward to a short run in the rain, so decided to head out to the stream crossing and then come back. I met a couple of bicyclists coming out the first hundred yards who warned me the trail was pretty bad. Other than that, I had the entire run to myself.

The trail had several sections where it was totally covered in water and I was careful to avoid those sections because I was afraid to twist an ankle with a marathon coming up on Saturday. It was magical up there on the Pipeline Trail. I think this is one of the few times I have had the trail entirely to myself and it was so quiet with just the sound of the rain on the trees. It was not a cold rain, just refreshing. As I ran along I started praying. Not only did this turn out to be one of my all-time favorite runs, but it turned into my longest prayer ever. I think it had to do with being able to appreciate the magic and beauty of nature, but I had so much that I needed to thank my Heavenly Father for and it all just seemed to keep flowing out.

For anyone who has not experienced the joys of trail running, it is hard to describe why I love trails. But I will try. Trail running is usually much more challenging than road running. It is rarely flat and you cannot let your brain turn off because you have to watch for rocks and roots and other obstacles. The uphills can be a killer, the downhills can be a blast. I think that we as human beings spend so much time surrounded by noise and man-made objects – buildings, furniture, other humans, etc – and that we basically crave getting back to where we can appreciate life and solitude. Trails and nature are so refreshing and give back so much more than we put into them.

My plans for the night were an easy three mile run. Before I knew it, I had reached the three mile turnaround (not the 1.5 mile turnaround) and ended up running a total of 6 miles. I didn't wear a watch tonight, but I think I finished in a little over an hour – so it was probably one of my fastest six miles ever, but felt effortless. I was soaked to the skin, covered in mud, and happier than I have been for a long, long time.