Adventures In Running

Monday, December 9, 2013

Maffetone Method training – 3 months later

I have not followed the Maffetone method I referred to in September as much as I wanted to. Mainly because I had a couple of marathons in there and was not going to keep my heart rate below 128 in those races.

I have been working on it off and on and trying to run more consistently. Sunday I did a test on my progress. In the last workouts (none since early November) that I did in this method, I found that my pace would be under 3.5 mph after the first hour and I would have to switch to walking where my body is much more efficient (I can walk over 4 mph for a long time without my heart rate going up).

My plan was to continue running until I got under 3.5 mph or two hours, whichever came first. At the end of 2 hours my speed was still 3.7 mph and most of the time it was 4 mph or greater, so I am definitely making progress.

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Epic Fail on the North Kaibab Trail

Just got back from a grand adventure for the last three days. It was not the adventure I had planned, but I will regroup and try again.

Back story: a couple of weeks ago I heard about a group of runners going down to the Grand Canyon to attempt a R2R2R (Rim to Rim to Rim). This has always been on my bucket list and I was fairly confident that I could struggle through and complete this journey, so signed up for a seat on the Party Bus. I think everyone planning on this run was super excited. The numbers kept going up and down as people cancelled, but we ended up with eight people on the party bus and 3 more coming the next day from St. George.

Friday morning we met at Walter's house in South Jordan and Steve Anderson drove down his big diesel RV from Logan. Various members of the group were picked up along the way. The party bus crowd consisted of Steve, Walter, Huan, Brett, Mindi, Christie, Clyde and myself. I could tell right away that I was the least fit and slowest of the group – but I also figured I was very determined.

The Party Bus made for an adventure in itself. A couple of days before the run, it got sideswiped by a garbage truck. As we drove down south, a couple of the runners said they smelled a burning smell. We didn't know what it was until there was suddenly a metallic whine and the bus shook. We pulled over and the left rear dualy inside tire had blown. We limped into Scipio and went to two different tire places. The first one obviously didn't want to help. The second one had a brilliant idea that they knew would work. They had a slightly smaller used tire that they could replace it with. After a 90 minute delay, we were back on the road.

As we approached the Grand Canyon, Steve announced that we had to make a final choice on whether to start on the North Rim (original plan) or South Rim. We voted on North Rim and started down that road. A minute or two later BLAM! Poor Party Bus – the same tire blew again. We then had to choose whether to turn back to the nearest little town to get help, or head on to the North Rim driving very slowly and figure something out in the morning. I had been getting a strong feeling all afternoon that I wouldn't be running the entire R2R2R and this seemed to confirm that feeling.

The Party Bus limped into the parking lot of the North Kaibab Trailhead and we set about getting everything set up. Several of the runners were concerned when Steve announced that he wouldn't be running the next day because he had to work on the RV issues. Some of them encouraged him to go and do the run and then deal with the RV. I wasn't saying much – but I knew that there was no way he could do the run and get the bus fixed. We were in the middle of nowhere. No cars had been seen for a couple of hours. No cell phone reception. No way to drive the bus out to get help. Oh – and it was really cold out (really, really, really cold). About 25 degrees with the temperature dropping.

After dinner we all finished packing up our gear for the run and went to sleep. I was sleeping on a vinyl couch and froze. Anytime I moved, I would start shivering from the cold under my blankets.

4 a.m. came much too soon. We all groggily woke up and got dressed for the run and snarfed down some food. Steve had been busy making contingency plans for runner issues and was really worried. He made the decision that he would run with us for several miles down the trail and then come back up. There was another carload of runners coming from St. George and he was hoping to borrow their car to run around to find a way to get the RV fixed.

5 a.m. – we stepped out into a frozen world. Temperatures were about 18 degrees and worrisome. We took a picture at the start by the trail sign (I think my nose and mouth got in one of them) and then started down the trail. The trail was slippery and icy with snow and we had to be careful to not slip and fall. I quickly fell into my usual place at the back of the pack as Walter, Clyde and Christie took off like they were at a race. My legs were feeling really good as the run progressed. I had to strip off a layer of clothes as we descended. I was still thinking positively about the run, but concerned that my breathing and pulse were skyrocketing on a downhill run.

Past Supai Tunnel. Down more switchbacks. I was a about ¼ of a mile back from the next runners and came to a wooden bridge. After I ran over the bridge, the trail started going uphill. This had me concerned that maybe I had taken a wrong turn. I could no longer see any headlamps. I yelled out – but didn't get a response. I went uphill for a while and then decided to backtrack to see if I had missed a fork. Back a half mile and then I was fairly sure I was on the right trail, but not positive. Back over the bridge and partway up the hill again. Then I decided to go back to the bridge and rest. I sat on a rock and it took about 5 minutes for my heart rate to get under control. A peaceful feeling came over me that this was the end of my run. I don't know why – but I knew I had to stop.

I wasn't sad. I wasn't upset. I wasn't depressed. I wasn't hurting. I started back up the trail and then could see a headlight down below. I was sure it was Steve making sure he hadn't lost any of his sheep. I ran back down the hill again and over the bridge and met him and told him I was done. I think he was secretly relieved, but also surprised I had given up so quickly. We turned around and started power hiking up the canyon again. After a couple of minutes my heart started pounding really hard. I rested a couple of times and then told Steve to go on ahead. He told me he would give me an hour and then come back if I hadn't made it out.

I started to hike again and within a minute or so got really dizzy. I sat down and then started to black out – so laid down on the trail with my feet up higher. Once I felt like I wasn't going to pass out, I got up and forced a gu down me in case I was having low blood sugar. I could go anywhere between 25-100 steps and then the dizziness would occur. I tried to eat another snack and started gagging with severe nausea. Back to the gus and water. I had a hard time walking a straight line, but was really careful to sit down and rest before I passed any sharp drop-offs. One more episode of almost passing out and then I just walked slower and slower and rested as soon as my heart pounded too hard. I'm assuming I had altitude sickness because I had never run this high before. I did make it out the canyon just as the hour expired. 5 miles took me almost 3.5 hours.

As the night ended and dawn came, you could tell that there was a heavy inversion. We had been running through fog on some of the descent. As I hiked out I got some neat pictures of the inversion with the sun coming up.

The St. George runners had left their car, so we drove up to the lodge to see if we could find a pay phone. The gift shop was open and we were glad to get inside out of the cold. We explained our problem to Becky – the woman running the store and she said we were welcome to sit there while we tried to get some answers. There was no payphone – but Steve actually had cell service. Thus started 4 ½ hours of him calling insurance companies and all over the place trying to have someone come up and put a new tire on the Party Bus. I sat and visited with Becky and started to shiver from being in wet clothes, so ended up buying some shirts and a sweatshirt and socks to help me get warm and spent a lot of the time huddled in front of a tiny space heater. It was the last day the gift shop was opened and they only had three space heaters trying to warm up a huge room. (It didn't work too well). Steve finally got confirmation that someone was coming from Flagstaff (5.5 hours away) to swap out tires.

We hung around the Party Bus for a while and Steve showed me how the generator and lifts worked and headed down to get another run in. He was hoping to meet the first runners coming back. He planned to be back by 6 because he was figuring the mechanic wouldn't make it there until 5. I read and dozed for a while and then saw the mechanic pulling in at 4:30. I worked with him to get all the wheels off the ground and then let him do his thing. (Complicated story – but tires were being switched around on all four axles).

Just around 6:00, Walter, Clyde and Christie came over the rim with Steve on their heels. They had completed the full run! Clyde and Christie even decided they wanted an even 50 miles and headed out for more and Walter and Steve headed up to get cell service to see where the other runners were.

We were all a little worried. We didn't know where our last three runners were from the Party Bus and how they were doing. Temperatures were dropping quickly and we started thinking what to do if they didn't make it out before a certain time.

Around 10 p.m. Steve was getting geared up again to head down to try and find the runners, when suddenly we shouted with excitement as 2 and then a third light popped up over the edge. Mindi, Brett and Huan had all made it! Two of the runners from St. George had successfully completed the run too – so 8 of our little band had accomplished this coveted goal.

Today we headed home. We were cold, tired, hungry and sore – but had accomplished quite a bit in a couple of days.

I'm still not upsetting about DNF'ing. I am committed now to losing the weight and getting in the shape I need to be in in order to accomplish this myself.

Next up – ATY 48 hour race at the end of December.

Friday, November 29, 2013

The Sound of Music

This has nothing to do with running (shock!) but does have something to do with adventures.

Starting in September I joined a Stake Chorus to perform the Messiah. We practiced one night a week until the end and then switched to longer hours and twice a week. The director was my neighbor, Jonathan Lofgren and his wife was one of the two pianists. They are such a talented couple and I love having them as friends and neighbors.

We practiced and performed 5 of the choruses in addition to solos and the overture. We even had a professional soundman to make the sound great.

Our performance was last Sunday evening. I think we had twice the crowd that we expected and the atmosphere and spirit were great. The performance went well and was well received.

I had forgotten how much I loved having to sing in a well-trained chorus and challenging my voice to its full potential. Handel is very hard to sing – but by the end we nailed those High A's. I can't wait for next year to do this again. I'd even go to the sing-a-long Messiah with the Utah Symphony this weekend – but I have another small running adventure planned instead.


Thursday, November 14, 2013

Saints and Sinners

One of my co-workers had put together a team for Ragnar Vegas so that they could get the Saints and Sinners medal. This is a medal you get for running Wasatch Back and Vegas in the same year. At the last minute they had someone drop out of their team and I agreed to fill-in since running 17 miles with no notice is not that big of a deal for me.

We left early Friday morning to drive down to Las Vegas. We were Van 2 – so had a while to get down there after Van 1 started. Once again – they had out team starting out fairly late in the day.

Ragnar Vegas is an okay race. The best thing about it was that the temperatures were nice so we didn't have to hydrate constantly or freeze at night.

I was runner 11, so the next to the last runner each time. Because Las Vegas is on the far eastern side of the Pacific Time Zone – it was dark shortly after 4 p.m. each day. This meant that most of our runs were in the dark.

Leg one – 5.4 miles. Three miles of wonderful downhill followed by two miles of uphill. I was able to cut off quite a bit of time on the downhill and didn't lose a lot of it on the uphill (other than the long breaks at stoplights). I could hear my team saying, "Hey! There goes Maurine!" as I ran into the transition area and I reached the transition before runner 12. Lots of concrete on this run, but a nice wide sidewalk with lots of lighting.

Leg two – 3.9 miles. Leg two started at a casino and ran across the parking lot and then across the freeway. I ended up doing at least one mile of this run in a creepy warehouse area with very poor lighting, so was glad to have it done. Once again – those stupid stoplights added to my time.

I was so thrilled to sleep for a couple of hours on a football field until after daylight. My legs were not happy after being bent all day from sitting in the car.

Leg three – 7.7 miles. This leg was in the heat of the day and near Lake Mead. It was also in daylight so I enjoyed that a lot. Probably the prettiest part of the run for our van. The maps did not give a good estimate on this leg because it was a lot more uphill than we had imagined. I pushed hard and cut off about 15-20 minutes from our estimated time. Between heat and pushing, I was still breathing hard a good 20 minutes later. I think this led to some stomach upset at the finish, but recovered once I got some antacid in me.

At the finish line we were handed a pack of medals for each van. Then we went up and got our Saints to Sinners medal. We were all starving and our dinner that night was so delicious!

In comparing Ragnar Wasatch Back with Ragnar Vegas – Wasatch Back wins hands down. Things I didn't like about the Vegas run:

  • Stoplights – I got stopped at so many stoplights and often they were 2 or more minutes before I was allowed to continue. While this gave me some quick recovery – it was frustrating to lose all that time and a good pace.
  • Back and Forth – In Vegas you are running out and backs and covering the same territory as previous legs or nearby. We got tired of the same area and having to loop around in the chutes instead of handing off the baton and running on.
  • Organization – much less organized in Vegas. At the start line everyone had to pick up their own shirt. There were no safety pins until just a couple of minutes before our first runner went out and we were only given two apiece. At the finish line, no real ceremony. You just crossed the line and they handed you the packs of medals – didn't even put them around your neck. And finding where to go at different exchanges in the dark was frustrating.
  • Directions – the directions in the RagMag were pretty bad. The van drivers pretty well had to rely on GPS to find the next location. Too often it said, "follow the runner". Yeah – that doesn't work when the runner has headed off on a trail. And some of the legs did not list that they were on unpaved trail which made it difficult for the runners.

All in all I was glad to experience a new race. However, I will not do this one again. The van team was fun to hang with, but I was disappointed in the overall race.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Detroit International Marathon

I had the opportunity to go to Detroit last month and run the Detroit Free Press International Marathon. My company was sponsoring employees to run this race and I was able to coordinate it with a business trip as well as a short vacation to Illinois for my niece's wedding. We ran the race in honor of Cathy Scoda – an employee who had been training for the half marathon and died unexpectedly of heart failure at the young age of 48.

The Thursday before the marathon (which was on Sunday), I went walking/running with my daughter and felt great. We then headed out to do some errands and after about 30 minutes I suddenly started to feel horrible. It quickly went downhill. I had a hard time breathing, my chest hurt and I was just plain miserable. Spent a few hours debating on trying to find an urgent care facility that day or see how I was the next morning. After laying down for a while – I realized I needed to try and find one that afternoon. I called my insurance to find the location of an approved facility in Illinois and they informed me I would need to drive to Muncie, Indiana. Yeah. Not going to happen. I finally found a place nearby that would only cost me $75 out of pocket and headed out. Place was closed because the doctor had an emergency. And it looked like a dive. I had passed a nice urgent care facility a few blocks back and went over there. It was $125 to be seen there – but beggars can't be choosers. A couple of hours later, I finally got to see a doctor. Bronchitis, asthma, sinus infection. Good things to have right before a marathon.

Saturday I drove back to Michigan (I'm trying to forget the brilliant moment when I locked my keys in the trunk of the rental car) and went to the race expo. They do a good job of forcing you to walk by every booth twice as they wind you to the back of the conference center to pick up your packet and then leave. I only gave in once and bought a new medal holder. At this marathon you have to show a passport in order to pick up your packet because the race crosses over into Canada. Kind of different.

Sunday morning I drove into Detroit. Things went smoothly until I sat on the freeway for more than 20 minutes without moving trying to park at a casino. Wasn't happening. Everyone else had the same idea. Took my chances and raced up to the next exit and drove wildly trying to find a different casino and hoping I wasn't driving into areas of Detroit I should avoid. Luckily, a coworker and his father came back to that casino to escort me to the race because I was totally lost.

It was another good morning. No wind and cool – but not too cold. I had a throwaway shirt (thanks St. George for the ugliest race shirt I never wanted) and disposable gloves to keep me warm and that was sufficient. The company had designed Team Cathy shirts for us to wear and it turned out to be a great shirt and didn't cause any chafing. (I know – never wear something for the first time to a race). There were quite a few MCUL employees running the 5K, a handful or two running the half marathon(s) and one crazy employee doing the full marathon. (Who could that be?)

I was in the last corral because when I originally registered – I was in the walking marathon. It took us about 30 minutes after the start of the race until we crossed the start line. This was my first big city marathon and quite an experience. So many people and the marathon and half marathon were on the same course for the first 12.9 miles. Basically – I spent most of the first 10 miles dodging between people and trying to move forward because, as usual, lots of slow runners went into earlier corrals. After 2 or so miles we approached the entrance to the bridge. Lots of customs officials yelling at us to show our bibs and looking for shady characters or people wanting to immigrate illegally into Canada. Phew – I guess I didn't look too shady because I wasn't stopped. We crossed the Ambassador Bridge between the US and Canada. This is a mile long bridge and was a lot of fun (except for the people dodging). Everyone around me was complaining about the uphill and I was trying to figure out what they were talking about. It was a bridge – very little uphill. Heck – I ran all the uphills in this race – something I can never do in Utah.

Once in Canada we ran along the waterfront in Windsor, Ontario for several miles before once again running the gauntlet of customs agents. This time they weren't as noisy – guess they figure no one wants to enter the US. On the way back we ran in a mile long underwater tunnel. Nice and hot and muggy. And no GPS reception. One mile later we were back in the good old US of A and running through Detroit.

In the first half of the race there were people everywhere cheering you on. Rarely did you go an entire block without a cheering section. They also had lots of bands and entertainment along the way. About mile 12 I was passed by a couple of Team Cathy runners and talked with them for a few minutes. At the half marathon turn-off, Doug Scoda (Cathy's husband) cheered me on. Suddenly – the crowds were gone. There were obviously lots more runners doing half marathons than full marathons. Right after the turn-off, we also saw the starting line of the US Only Half Marathon. It had started an hour or so earlier and I was hoping I could pass some of them before the finish.

I did carefully watch the time to make sure I used my inhaler every four hours. I could tell by mile 10 that I had no energy from being sick, so I just continued with my run 2.5 minutes/walk 2.5 minutes schedule and hoped I could maintain that. If nothing else, I would walk it in. I was not trying to push because I figured that would be foolish when I could hardly stand up without wanting to pass out a couple of days earlier.

In the second half of the marathon we started running through different "towns" in Detroit. Greek Town, Polish Town, etc. There were a few miles where we ran by some gorgeous old mansions. The people in this area were great. Lots of them set up little tables in front of their houses with Dixie cups full of M&M's and Gummy Bears and such. I loved my M&M's and treasured them over a couple of miles.

At mile 16, I had been leap frogging another woman for a mile or two. I could tell she was flagging and she would hear my GymBoss beeping. She finally asked me what I was running and told her my 2.5/2.5 plan. I invited her to run with me and she happily joined me at that point in time. Her name was Stephanie and she was starting to flag. It was her first marathon (you could tell because newbies had green bibs) and she had never run longer than 20 miles. I told her that I would be happy to stay with her the rest of the race and keep her going and she was really excited to no longer be alone. We had a good time getting to know each other the next 10.2 miles. Around mile 18 we ran out on a mile long causeway to an island. I could see some half marathoners on the way back out on the causeway and knew I was maintaining a good pace. We ran a couple of miles along the lakeshore on this pretty little island and then headed back. We were kind of happy to see how many runners were still crossing the causeway because we knew we were far ahead of a cutoff. We also felt bad because we knew they must be really struggling and had a long way to go.

After leaving the island, we spent a lot of the rest of the race running along the lakeshore heading towards downtown. Not a lot of cheerleaders anymore and Stephanie was flagging – but holding on. I told her to enjoy the emotions of the first finish – because nothing is the same. As we headed up the final hill she gave out an excited cry because her son was waiting for her. He joined us as we turned the corner to the finish line. Stephanie did not want to run anymore, so I told her we would get to the last stoplight before the finish and then run it in. We started the final run hand in hand and her son was disappointed because someone forced him off the course. We crossed the finish line and Stephanie turned to me and hugged me. She was so excited to be a marathoner and I was so happy to help her get there.

Friday, October 25, 2013

Running through memories

I had the opportunity to be back in the area where I grew up in the middle of October. Last time I was there – it was incredibly humid and I struggled through the runs – soaking wet from humidity.

This time, the weather was cool and a bit drizzly. Nice weather for running.

My first full day in Illinois, I headed out from my mother-in-law's house in Downers Grove to run by my old house in Darien. Down Plainfield Road. Though the Knottingham subdivision where we delivered newspapers for years. Past my old house. Looks the same – except they fenced in the back yard. Hey! The hill on my street is not really a hill. Just a bump in the road. It's all in the perspective (compared to mountains). Around my old subdivision and then back to Bruce Lake.

Lots of good memories on the route. It was nice to see these places. I really miss the field between my house and the Junior High School. We caused all sorts of problems there.

The next day, my daughter and I walked around Bruce Lake in the rain and down to the lake as she reminded me of her favorite memories there. I dropped her off at the house and did one final run around the subdivision.

Sweeping and Dog Paw Duty at the Mountain View Half Marathon

Jim Skaggs puts on a great group of races out on Antelope Island. I have volunteered at the Mountain View Half in October for several years in one way or another. It is a nice half marathon without a lot of elevation and the weather is usually good for this race.

This year I volunteered to be the sweeper again. I had done that in 2012 too. Unfortunately, the Thursday before the race I was feeling horrible with a sore throat, pounding head, aching ears, etc. Instead of starting 30 minutes after the race, I decided to start right after the race so I wouldn't have to push hard at all. By mile 2, I was breathing hard up the only real uphill (I could tell my system was not happy with me) and catching up to Marsha Mason and her dog Tinkerbell (a sheltie). We ended up running the rest of the race together. Tinkerbell didn't quite trust me at first, but by the end of the race I was part of her pack.

The course was in good condition. I think a lot of that was due to little rain this year. Last year I ran through tunnels of grass higher than my head and sunflowers attacking me. This year the grass was low. I thought this was due to them mowing the trail – but looking around I realized it was because the grass had not grown nearly as high this year.

We meandered on together running and walking past the lower Frary Peak aid station. Shortly after that we quit enjoying the race as much. From about mile 7-11 we encountered goats head stickers on the trail. Not just a few. They were everywhere. Poor Tinkerbell was constantly pulling up with a paw in the air and I started on paw duty to warn Marsha which paw was stuck. She went off trail for a lot of the time so that she was able to avoid them some, but that was harder on her because of the brush. I took a few turns carrying the dog so that we could speed up running. We kept hoping they would end and once we crossed over to the other side of the road we finally got a break and could enjoy the run again. There were about 8 dogs at the start – I felt really bad for them. I don't ever remember dogs having this much trouble on the trails before.

Finished the race and ate my hamburger and then Matt Van Horn gave me a ride back to the start line.

After the first couple of miles, I totally forgot I was sick. Things cleared up and it was great. I got sick again later that day – but it was a nice reprieve.

Monday, October 14, 2013

St. George Marathon 2013

On October 5, 2013 I ran my 7th St. George Marathon. I dealt with fear and trepidation going into this race because one year earlier my foot started hurting at mile 9 and I was miserable every step of the way from then to the finish. This eventually led to foot surgery and months without any enjoyable running.

It didn't help that the night before was really windy and cold. My sister and I went to see Mary Poppins at Tuacahn and walked out partway through because of the wind and cold. My foot was burning as I lay on the hotel bed and I seriously considered not running the race the next morning.

Saturday morning - foot is still hurting, but not as bad. Decided to give it a try. My plans going into the race were:
A) Finish in under 6 hours
B) Finish in under 6:30
C) Finish

It was pretty chilly as we huddled around the fire up in Central. Some runners were wearing fluffy bathrobes from D.I. I am so going to consider that next year. It was still breezy, but not as bad as the night before and it looked like it would be a tailwind.

The first couple of miles were pretty cold. I always hate that period while the body warms up because everything aches. Luckily - once I started running, the pain in my foot went away.  Shed my jacket at mile one, my tights at mile 7 and my arm warmers around mile 10. I kept alternating the gloves until about mile 20 because I was still cold.

I had my GymBoss set for run 2.5 minutes/walk 2.5 minutes. I wanted to maintain that as much as I could except for Veyo hill and see how the legs were doing when I hit the downhills.

I was actually running fairly easily and could tell I was going to be in Veyo ahead of my expectations. I called my sister and she had not yet arrived there, so told her I was charging through. It was turning into a great day.

When I hit the downhills, the legs were feeling good. My IT Band flared up earlier, but I put an IT strap on it and that solved that problem. Cruised down the downhills. No major speed, but feeling fine. I actually started revising my finish goals and eventually moved it up to 5:45.

I passed my sister at Snow Canyon Road and she handed me some SlimFast. I was having so much fun I pushed to get down the road and on to the Diagonal before she drove past me. My legs didn't start getting heavy until mile 24.  My stomach felt fine. My foot wasn't hurting. Life was good.

I tried to push and beat 5:45, but I made that new goal a little to late in the race. Finished in 5:45:14 and considered it good.

My first great run in almost 2 years. It is runs like these that make all the rest worthwhile.

Saturday, September 28, 2013

Dugway Isolation Run - 20K

I heard about the Dugway Isolation Run this week on Facebook on the Wasatch Mountain Wranglers Facebook page. It was a first year run out on Dugway Proving Grounds and I always like the opportunity to run on trails that are not normally open to the public. They offered 20K, 30K and 50K options. With St. George in one week, I decided to go for the 20K option. $30 for a trail race - very good price. $40 in gas to get there and back - not so good a price. Next time - it would be worth it to carpool. This race is out in the middle of nowhere. Really. Reminds me a lot like getting to the Pony Express Trail - but less bumpy roads. The race started shortly after 8 this morning. There were about 25 runners total in all 3 races - most of us from Wasatch Mountain Wranglers and a good portion running in Altras (they were very well represented). Once the race started - I was on my own for most of the race. The 20K consisted of 2 loops of the 10K course. There were other trails for the 30K and 50K runners to take as part of the back portion of the race.
Just in case I was not fully awake or warmed up, shortly after the start of the race we started the uphill (see above picture). Slightly more than a mile in length, it wound up the hillside until we were at the buildings. No sense pushing (and I am lousy at uphills) so I settled into a good walk. There were a couple of walkers behind me and I passed one other 20K runner halfway up the hill. I stayed about .25 miles ahead of her the first loop and never saw her on the second loop. After the fun uphill - we were rewarded with some downhill. Luckily, this week I was not paranoid about running downhills. I still kept the breaks on - but except for the most gnarly sections, I was able to run most of the downhills and flats. They did a good job marking the course. Turn signs and small flags made it easy to tell where you needed to go. The Race Directors had a sense of humor and had marked different sections of the course with names like Widowmaker. About 3 miles in the other distance racers peeled off for some small loop sections. I filled up on water and headed further on the course. The race had several people checking off numbers to make sure you were following the correct loops (and paranoia that we might want to hang around out there for good). They had water at 2 remote locations and food and water at the end of the loop. Also a portapotty with lots of cobwebs. The remote aid stations were my only areas that I think need improvement. The first one was running low on water fairly quickly, and neither of them had sport drink. Also - I think everyone brought along some kind of hydration method - but it would have been nice to know that we needed to carry our own bottles and there would not be cups. I'm really fine with cupless races - but they need to make sure everyone is aware of it. Lots of ups and downs on this race. It was a beautiful course with several different terrains. Some sections reminded me of Pony Express, some of Antelope Island (the Elephant Head section). This was a tough course - because there was so much up and down along the way. Two hard climbs on each loop, plus several not so hard climbs. Finish loop 1 - repeat all over again. Not as much energy the second time. My glutes were definitely not used to trail running and my neck and upper back were stiff from the pounding. I was pleased to find out at the end that I was first in my age group in the 20K. I got my first official race bling (other than medals for that).
At the race finish with my medal and award.
My age group award
Quite the impressive race for a first year effort. Kudos to the group that put it all together. Also - probably the best race bag I've ever received - a nice reusable bag filled with the race shirt, two water bottles, a stress ball, a Frisbee, a set of chums (for sunglasses), pen, sample body glides, nutrition bars, sample shot blocks, etc. I really hope they do this race a week or two earlier next year so that I can do one of the longer distances.

Friday, September 27, 2013

Night Running

I haven't done much running at night on trails.

Back when I lived in Layton, Utah – I ran a couple of Christmas Eve runs on the Bonneville Shoreline Trail with my neighbor, Vic Mason. And I did a few night hikes with no lights or anything when I was furious at someone and needed to get away.

Two years ago I ran a part of the Buffalo Run 50K after dark when I was running the race a day early in order to be able to volunteer the next day.

Tuesday night I got together with a new Facebook friend, Adriana Vars, and ran the Pipeline Trail after dark. I have to admit that we ran together for over 2.5 hours and I don't know what she looks like – it was that dark.

Beautiful night to run. Good company and good weather. We had a lot of wind at times – turns out it was bringing in snow that night.

I really enjoyed the views of the lights in the valley as we ran out on the trail. So pretty and sparkling. Made it worth the late night run.

I'm going to try to join in on some more night runs and get more comfortable with trails in the dark. Not sure I will totally get over being concerned about running alone after dark – but it should be better with people I know around.

Wasatch Crest 2013

I was determined to get up on the Wasatch Crest (or part of it) this summer and since my running buddy is hanging out in Tonga, I decided to head up last Saturday and take it on myself.

I drove up Millcreek Canyon early in the morning. I was surprised at how much traffic there was already and I ended up down in the very bottom overflow parking lot for Big Water.

I took along my DSLR camera hoping to find some good locations for pictures and hoping to find some autumn color. It wasn't looking too good on the drive up – I think we have had too dry of a summer.

From the lower Big Water parking lot, I headed up the trail to Dog Lake. So was everyone and their dog. Really. I must have passed more than 50 dogs going one way or another. And way too many people. The ones that never stopped talking for a single minute were kind of annoying, so I would break free of some of the conga lines to move ahead of all the people and pets. At the trail where you could go two different directions to Dog Lake, a hiker warned me there was a mother and baby moose on the left hand trail. I decided to go on the right hand trail.

Stopped to take pictures at Dog Lake. Is it named Dog Lake because of all the dogs? There were tons of them running around and swimming in the lake.

I headed down from Dog Lake to Desolation Lake. I wish that trail was more runnable, but I seemed to spend a lot of time hopping from side to side to avoid the big rut down the middle.

Back up again at the fork towards Desolation Lake. It was nice to be away from all the people and dogs on the latter two trail sections. They built a new side path for mountain bikers near the fork and that was a bit of a surprise.

I found some more great places to take pictures on this trail. I was loving the blue sky – you forget how pretty it is with the pollution down in the valley.

Finally when I got to Desolation Lake, there was a patch of trees with yellow leaves – I think they were aspens. I traded off with a couple of groups of hikers and bikers to get in some pictures and take pictures of them. Desolation Lake was not as pretty as usual – the water level was really low. I enjoyed getting some shots of the sun glinting on the lake and the wind moving waves across the water.

More pictures of the leaves as I hiked up to the ridge. At the top of the ridge I stopped to take some more pictures of a lake over on the Park City side and then checked in with my daughter.

I headed down towards Millcreek again. Normally I can run this section with no problems. Not this time. I had some weird paranoia going on about falling and could only run on the smoother sections of trail. If there were any rocks or roots I had to slow down. I tried to get over the mental block – but not much success. In addition, I had no energy in my legs and couldn't maintain a running pace for long. Finally – after about 3 miles of trying to increase my food intake, I was able to run the last 2 miles and enjoy the run. I ended up taking the Red Pine Trail for the first time and came out on the other side of the parking lot (never saw the red pine it was named for).

Down the road to my car and the home. Twelve great miles on the trails.

Next day – my legs were toast. I can tell I did not do enough trails this summer. Good feeling though to know I activated lots of muscles.

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Maffetone Method Week 1

After reading a post on Facebook about the Maffetone Method a couple of weeks ago, it reminded me about the first time I read of this method of training in the book Finding Ultra. Rich Roll in that book described how he had already been a good athlete, but when he started training seriously for the Ultraman race, his trainer put him on a training program where he couldn't let his heart rate get over a certain number of bpm and in the beginning he even had to walk hills and some flats in order to keep his heart rate down. However, over time, his body adjusted to the training and he reached speeds and endurance that he had never been able to accomplish before.

I can't claim to have ever had speed, but I thought I had good endurance. However, after researching the "slow" training method, there were several aspects that intrigued me:

  • This is supposed to be a good training method for athletes that are injured (looking at my foot – I checked this off)
  • The first few weeks speeds might be as slow as 17 minutes per mile (or slower) – (check – good method to improve my running while I am really slow)
  • This method is an effective way of determining aerobic capacity and increasing it (need that)
  • The method is supposed to teach your body to burn fat instead of carbs (Ok – I have an excess of fat – I can use that).

After thinking about it for a couple of weeks and talking it over with my daughter, I decided to give it a try. I wouldn't be following the initial training plan totally because that calls for never letting your heart rate going above the plan max and I have both the St. George Marathon and Detroit International Marathon ahead of me – but I figure those two exceptions are better than multiple excuses for putting it off.

Step 1: Calculate the heart rate range. Under the Maffetone Method, this is 180 – your age (+/- exceptions). 180-52 equals 128! Yowza! I needed to keep my heart rate between 118-128 bpm in all exercising.

Step 2: Find my heart rate monitors. Dug through drawers and found three of them.

  • Garmin Heart Rate strap to go with my Garmin Forerunner 305. After much experimentation the light bulb went off and I figured out I had to sync it to my Garmin.
  • Polar Heart Rate strap and monitor. Using the strap at my gym will allow me to train on treadmills.
  • Pear Bluetooth strap – allows me to train using my Pear app if all else fails.

Step 3: Run

Tuesday night I went out for my first run. Set my minimum and maximum heart rate alarms on the Garmin and did a 6 mile run. Or walk. Or really slow trot. I fairly quickly realized that this was going to be fairly hard at the start on the roads. My speed was between 4.2 mph down to 3.2 mph. Very frustrating – but a good indication that I do not have the aerobic fitness I thought I had.

Thursday night I went to the gym to use the treadmill. 5 miles on the treadmill with my initial pace at 4.3 mph and down to a lowly 3.2 mph by the end. I just gradually slow down as my heart rate starts exceeding the maximum.

Friday night back to the gym. Initial speed was 4.6 mph and down to 3.8 mph in the three miles I ran.

Saturday I started seeing a little benefit to the training – but also still frustrating. I planned on doing 10 miles, but by 8 miles my speed was down to 3.5 mph, so I called it quits and went walking.

Sunday afternoon – 3 miles on the treadmill – speed between 4.5 mph and 3.9 mph.

Expectations were that the first few weeks would be pretty slow – so I am meeting those expectations. The good thing is – on the treadmill I am running constantly and improving my running capacity.

Tomorrow is a rest day and I'll just walk the dog. Tuesday will start week 2. I am interested to see what kind of progress (or lack thereof) will occur in week 2.

Friday, September 6, 2013

Wasatch 100 adventures

I swear I have a curse on me for pacing the Wasatch 100. Three times I have been signed up to pace and twice my runners have DNF'd (Did Not Finish) earlier in the race and this year my runner DNS'd (Did Not Start).

Since I had a few days' notice this week that I would not be pacing from Lamb's Canyon to Brighton, but had already taken the day off work, I sent a message to the Wasatch 100 Race Committee to see if they needed any volunteers. Claude Grant got hold of me last Saturday and provided me with a couple of volunteer jobs. I was to be at the bus loading at 3:20 a.m. this morning to check runners on to the buses and then I would be driving a van the rest of the day until 7 p.m. tonight when the next van driver's shift started.

I actually started volunteering earlier than planned and had a blast. I just love all the energy around distance races and it was so impressive yesterday to be at the Race Briefing at Sugarhouse Park with all the ambitious men and women set to run 100 miles across the top of the mountains. I stayed afterwards and helped load vehicles with drop bags. 300+ runners with several aid stations with drop bags equals a whole lot of loading.

This morning came way too early, but I made it to the bus loading in time and helped check runners onto the three buses. We then escorted the buses up to Kaysville with one van in the lead and my van at the tail to make sure everyone got to the starting line in time. We had to park down at the bottom of the hill and hike up to the Kaysville Wilderness Park for the start. I turned in the check-in pages and then went about ¼ mile down the trail to cheer the runners on as they went past. Wish I could have taken some pictures of them running in the dark – but that far surpasses my photography skills.

Once the race started, we loaded more drop bags in the other van and that van headed to Soldier Hollow and my van headed back to Salt Lake where I dropped the other van driver off at his apartment. He needed to rest because he was pacing most of the day with another racer.

Hold on for the exiting part here…… Picked up food at Dunkin Donuts. Drove up to Woods Cross to the Kmart parking lot. Crawled in the back of the van and slept for two hours. Read and talked on the phone for another hour or so. Drove up to Farmington and parked at a church. Ran 3 miles. Read for a couple of hours. Basically – I had to be available if I was needed for anything – but wasn't for a while.

Finally, I got the call that the Francis Peak Aid Station vehicle was coming down. They met me and we transferred all the drop bags from their vehicle to mine and I headed off to Soldier Hollow. I stopped by Lambs Canyon Aid Station on the way up to say hi and see if they needed any help later. Right when I got to Soldier Hollow, Big Mountain Aid Station called in needing 200 pounds of ice, so I quickly off loaded 300+ drop bags (that was an adventure!) and headed back to Jeremy Ranch to pick up ice. After buying 25 bags of ice, the gas station employees were kind enough to help me load the back of the van with ice and I headed back down to Big Mountain (or should I say up?).

Big Mountain was bustling when I got there. We off loaded all the ice and it was really needed. One of the hotter race days and the heat was really hurting the runners. I checked in with the ham radio team and wasn't needed yet at another location, so told them where I was and ended up helping with food and drink for the next 3.5 hours. The first few hours they were short on volunteers so it was really good to feel needed and I got pretty good at loading up water bottles with ice.

Near the end of my shift we got some ferocious winds up at Big Mountain. We literally were holding down the tents so they would not blow away. Just what the runners needed on top of all the heat.

At 6:30 I headed down from Big Mountain and met the next couple that was taking the van from 7 7 a.m. I was sad to see my volunteer time come to an end, but my foot was sore. It was interesting, because the time I ended was right about when I would have started pacing.

I'm looking forward to going over to the finish line tomorrow and cheering on all these awesome runners one more time.

Race Volunteering – everyone should do it

After my blog post last week on what makes a good Race Director, my daughter suggested I write another post on volunteering at races. So – without further ado – here it is.

Race volunteers are critical. There are very few races that could actually be run without race volunteers and most of those are fat a$$ races or informal races. Race volunteers come in all shapes and sizes. Some are paid volunteers, some are paid volunteers (ie police blocking roads, police escorts, medical personnel), and some just get roped in along the way.

I started racing in 2004 and started volunteering in 2005. Some of the volunteer work is fun, some of it is inspiring, some of it is exhausting and some of it is disgusting – but it is all worthwhile. In fact, I wish it was a requirement that for every x number of races you participate in, you have to do y hours of volunteer work with races. I really applaud some of the trail races like Wasatch 100 where the participants have to do volunteer work on trails. Not only do they give back to the community, they have a better appreciation of the hard work that goes into creating and maintaining trails.

Some of the different volunteering duties I have done over the years include:

  • Stuffing race bags
  • Packet pickup
  • Manning a turn or turnaround to provide directions
  • Marking a course
  • Pickup up after a race
  • Handing out water and other drinks at an aid station
  • Cutting up and preparing food at an aid station
  • Cheering on runners along a course
  • Checking runners in/out of an aid station
  • Loading vehicles with drop bags
  • Laying out drop bags at an aid station
  • Running an aid station
  • Training volunteers
  • Sweeping a race (i.e. – being the last runner)
  • Pacing a race (i.e. –keeping runners on a set time limit for finishing)
  • Bus check-in
  • Racer check-in
  • Driving supplies around a course
  • Driving runners from the finish on a course to the start
  • Garbage detail (nothing better than a jeep full of overflowing bags with oozing chocolate milk and other suspicious liquids)
  • Manning an all night aid station (ok – being surrounded by lots of big scary buffalo in the middle of nowhere was pretty terrifying)
  • Portable toilet detail (must admit this was worse than garbage detail – a memory I will never forget)
  • Starting a race/pre-race instructions
  • Racer motivation
  • Anything else asked of me

As you can see – there are lots of opportunities. Still more for me to try and that is part of the fun.

Bonus points: Some Race Directors are kind enough to provide race entries and/or discounts for volunteering at their races.

Pacer bonus points: Free race entry into a race that you can do as a long run.

What are you waiting for? Get out there and volunteer!

Sunday, September 1, 2013

How to be a Good Race Director

Since 2004 I have participated in a lot of races as a runner, pacer and volunteer. Through that time, I have met a lot of good Race Directors, some not so good ones, and some that just don't think things through.

I've seen novice Race Directors like Jim Skaggs and Davy Crockett learn from experience from first races on. Usually, the good Race Directors find out quickly what doesn't work or what they forget and don't make those mistakes again. It is the Race Directors that don't learn from their mistakes that frustrate me.

Here are some suggestions on how to be a good Race Director (note: these are my opinions only):

  1. Be Consistent – you have no idea how frustrating it is when your website, pre-race emails, and Facebook page have different information on things like packet pickups, bus times, start times, cutoff times. People need to be able to trust that information and finding out it is changed or wrong just demoralizes participants.
  2. Be Clear – think ahead of all the information people want to know and provide an easy way for them to find this information. If you aren't sure what they might want to know – just google a few larger races and you can see what they have.
  3. Start On Time – no one wants to stand around for extra time because the buses didn't leave when planned or you don't have your timing people available or some other reason. People (and elites – from what I have heard) are geared up to start when you said you would start. So get it going on time!
  4. Mark the course clearly – put a few extra dollars in to put trail markers or road markers out to indicate turns or lack of turns. Even flour on the road or trail work well. No one likes being lost and confused.
  5. Prepare for all contingencies – maybe run or ride your course during the time of day when the runners will be out there. You can learn a lot about where you might be lacking in preparation.
  6. Train aid station volunteers – most of them are really wonderful – but they could also learn that when not visiting, they should be out past the aid station cleaning up the course. A simple laminated instruction sheet could cover this.
  7. Invest in correct measurement tools. It really frustrates runners when the mile markers are not consistent, some too long, some too short.

I am a back of the packer. I am naturally slow. I also tend to pace slower running groups. Here are some suggestions that are of particular concern to back of the packer's:

  1. IF the runners are not past the cutoff times, do not close down the aid stations! My first marathon I came upon aid stations that were shutting down and mentioned there were runners/walkers behind me.
  2. IF you have cutoff times, then you need to have a way to pull people off the course and transport them to the finish line. If you don't provide this method, then you need to keep supporting those runners out there.
  3. Spend enough money so that all participants can get the same aid station supplies. I can't count on both hands the number of races when they have been out of sports drink, food, gels, etc. for back of the packers. Hey! We are the ones who need this even more. We shouldn't be treated like second class citizens.
  4. See #3 and apply this to finish line food.
  5. Do not remove course markings until all participants have passed by them. If the course is shut down and you have officially pulled those runners, that is a different matter.
  6. Give a free entry to a sweeper (half marathons and beyond). Aid station volunteers can be very frustrated not knowing if anyone else will come through. A sweeper can come through and let them know all runners are safely past. Oh – it would be a good idea to give that sweeper a walkie talkie in case of injuries or illness of runners on the course.

I am truly grateful to those who make an effort to be a good Race Director. I'm not sure I have it in me to be one myself, but love volunteering and assisting with races in one way or another, so feel that I have some knowledge of how things can be improved.

To all the good Race Directors out there – thank you for all you do! Without you, we wouldn't have nearly the races that we currently have available.

Pacing the 2013 Layton Syracuse Marathon

Yesterday I paced the 2013 Layton Syracuse Marathon. I originally got an entry into this race by saving the Race Directors bacon at the Provo Moonlight Midnight Half Marathon. He gave me another free race entry after I also helped back of the pack runners survive snafus in the Legacy Moonlight Midnight Half Marathon. This latest race was two weeks after the Park City Marathon and Walter offered me a chance to pace the 6:30 cutoff, so figured it was a good reason to run slower than usual. I was concerned that I would overdo things and needed to have the legs to pace 22.5 miles of the Wasatch 100 the next Friday. (Found out later in the day yesterday that my racer chose to drop the race, so I didn't need to be concerned).

I had positive hopes for the race until the night before when I found out I was the only one of the pacers with correct race information since I was the only one officially entered in the race. This caused some consternation among the pacers and quick changes of plans.

Race morning had me up in Layton at 4 a.m. to pick up my race packet. Gosh – turns out they didn't even give me my actual race packet, just a t-shirt and bib. I would have liked one of the nice bags that other runners got.

Got my pacing band from Andy and Walter zoomed up right before we had to catch the last bus out with the pacing signs. There were only four of us pacing the marathon, so a smaller group than normal.

It was warm out on the island when the bus dropped us, so I took off my extra shirt and threw it in the drop truck and just hung out with my singlet on top. Spoke with Joe Coles the Race Director and e confirmed he wanted me to stay at 6:30 pace.

After the race started, I was alone at the back of the pack within a mile. Stayed on track with my pace band and just enjoyed the silence on the island. It was three or four miles until the sun came up enough to see much around me. The aid stations were well stocked and the volunteers were enthusiastic. Just past Frary Peak I saw about 100 or more buffalo on the left side of the road ranging all over the hill. Earl the buffalo nodded in passing.

Moved onto the causeway around mile 9. At mile 10 the sweep vehicles caught up to me. I asked them to call Joe and ask him if I should stay on pace or move up to the last racer – who was more than a mile ahead. They called in and told me to move up. It took about 8.5 miles, but I gradually closed the distance and caught up to Albert. At the point I caught up to him, he was pretty well walking his way in. It was a hot day and no shade, so we made sure to pour lots of water over us. I spent most of the day leap frogging the sweep vehicles and we started joking with each other.

Spent a couple of hours encouraging Albert. He had never run over 12 miles and was struggling. His back and hip were spasming and he had to quit trying to run at all. When I caught him we were 12 minutes ahead of 6:30 pace and the time kept slowing down. At the mile 23 aid station, I told him I had to move ahead to stay on pace and we said goodbye. Turned out not to be as long as I thought until I saw him again.

We passed an intersection about a half mile past that and I wondered if I should turn left there, but the race course had been well marked and there was no turn sign, so I kept running up Gentile Street. No 24 mile marker. I began to get concerned. About ¼ mile past before the next intersection I started questioning the course and turned back. Once I met up with Albert we started talking and turned around and tried to find someone to tell us which turn to take. No one knew. We finally brought up the Ellison Park on my phone and decided to turn around again and just make our way to the park. It was a hot day and we were really starting to get dehydrated. Even as we hit Ellison Park we saw no signs for the course, but saw the finish line and worked our way up to it. We ended up coming in backwards. My Garmin said 26.3 – so I was satisfied. The Race Director asked me what happened and we told him the course markers had been pulled. He apologized, we got our medals and I left.

At that point, there was water, oranges and some peanut butter sandwiches at the finish line. No sports drink? No other food?

I was relatively impressed with the organization prior to the 23 mile point, but my experience after that soured me on participating in On Hill Events again.

Oh – and I took 3rd in my age group, but because they were taking everything down, I didn't get know to get my age group reward and the web site says that you have to get them at the race or you are out of luck.

One day later and I am not really sore. I am still battling dehydration from those last miles in the sun without anything to drink.

Time to move on. Another finish on my list and more long runs down. Next up – Big Cottonwood Half Marathon and then St. George Marathon.

Monday, August 26, 2013

Scary Bathroom Mirror

Back home there is only a little mirror by my bathroom sink. Nothing in the small room where the tub/shower and toilet are.


This week I am staying in a hotel room with a huge mirror in the bathroom. I took a bath tonight and then looked in the mirror and realized something scary. I am fat. Not just overweight, but fat. It was not a pretty sight.


I need to do something about this. Not sure what (other than lose weight). Not sure how. But it is time to turn things about and get back into good shape.


And maybe, just maybe, I can avoid turning on the lights in the bathroom the rest of the week.

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Volunteering at the Sapper Joe 50K

Taking a little downtime between marathons (Park City last Saturday and Layton next Saturday), I agreed to volunteer at the Sapper Joe 50K race this morning. Why not? I already had my alarm set for an early Saturday from last week.

I was on base at Camp Williams by 4:30 a.m. and met my two National Guardsmen and followed them out to Aid Station number 2 on Camp Williams. It was pretty dark and I couldn't see much ahead on the drive out other than the back of their vehicle and the sparks it was shooting off. They lost a pin for a porta potty leg and it dragged the whole way, so I kept an eye out to make sure they didn't start a fire.

Dropped the vehicle off at the aid station and drove the Sergeant out to the gate to unlock it. This was the gate into the live ordinance section and we had to warn all the runners to NOT LEAVE THE TRAIL for any reason between the two green gates.

We quickly set up our aid station and I layed on a cot and enjoyed the starry night and sunset.

At 7:01 our first runner came through. Most of them were fairly self-sufficient and just chatted with us as we helped fill bottles and bladders (the running pack kind and probably the other kind too). Someone forgot to put TP in the portapotties, so luckily the paper towels were nice and fluffy.

Visited with Steve Kissell and his brother near the end of the race and enjoyed cheering on Jen Richards (who went on to win the female 50K). About 9:45 we drove out and locked the gate and picked up trail markers and were done for the day. It was very interesting seeing all the areas of the base that I had driven by in the dark with complete ignorance.

Looks like a beautiful but tough race. I want to experience these trails one year – but need to have more climbing legs on me before I can do that.

Thanks to the Army National Guard for allowing us to invade their territory and use their trails. Go Army!

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Park City Marathon 2013

August 17th was my fifth adventure with the Park City Marathon. This should have been my fifth or sixth race of the year, but in reality was my first (not counting sweeping at half marathons). My foot injuries are finally getting under control and it was time to see how the foot would hold up.

Going into the race I had not done over 20 miles in a run this year. Not the condition I wanted to be in and I'm still overweight, so it was planned that this would primarily be a long training run. I switched over to the 5 a.m. early start a couple of weeks ago because it was questionable if I could even finish and this marathon is a "slow" marathon because it is a tough one.

I like Park City Marathon in a perverse way. It is up in Park City, so you have some altitude to deal with. It has some easy trail sections thrown in and it winds a lot. Not the setup for a fast race in any way, shape or form. In addition, it has a few uphills. Okay – more than a few. Most of the first 15+ miles have gradual uphills and then top it off with running up to the parking lot of Deer Valley Ski Resort. Throw in a few more uphills after that in case you have not had enough fun on the hills.

Going into the race I had my usual A, B and C goals. A plan – sub 6:30. B plan – sub 7:00. C plan – finish.

Nice quiet start a few minutes before 5. The RD said that we would have a 5:00 start assigned to each of us, but we could leave then if we wanted to. Why not? I'd just use my Garmin for an official time. I started out the race on a 2:30 run/2:30 walk schedule. Made some slight adjustments on the longer uphills, but pretty well stuck with that until we started up the slog through downtown Park City and to the ski resort. After that I turned off my Gym Boss for about 5 miles.

It was a beautiful morning to be running. Cool but not cold, so I didn't take along my sleeves or gloves and figured I'd just cope when the temps dropped right before dawn. They did a better job of marking the course with signs in addition to markings, so made it easier to find the turns in the first subdivision in the dark. I was hoping to see the hot air balloons, but they were just getting filled when I passed them at mile 10 and never saw them up in the air.

Fritz cruised by me at mile 12. I could tell he was running well and would easily win because the second place male was more than a mile behind him.

At mile 14 I gave in and put on an audiobook to help me make it through the rest of the race.

Aid stations were much better in the past. They had food offerings available at every aid station. Probably not necessary until after mile 10 – but it was nice. Only complaint – the pretzels seemed stale. I carried a handheld water bottle, so cruised through most of the aid stations and occasionally grabbed a Gatorade and had the water bottle refilled twice.

Around mile 20 my left IT band started bothering me. I would run for 50-100 or so steps until it started hurting, then speed walked 100 steps and would try again. It never eased up, but I was able to run at that level for the remainder of the race.

I crossed the finish line at 6:19:57. Beat my A plan and I am satisfied with that. I never saw a finish arch to run under, so imagine they took it down early in anticipation of storms that were heading in.

Good to be back into marathons for the year. Ice bath last night and the legs are stiff but not sore today. Time to work on the IT band and prep for the Layton Marathon in less than two weeks.

Saturday, August 10, 2013

Are the foot problems almost over?

What a year it has been. It was somewhere in July when I started feeling Plantar Fasciitis in both my right and left feet. Still kicking myself for messing with my running stride and trying to shift to being a forefoot runner. I was able to get the PF under control fairly quickly in the right foot, but the left foot (as usual) seemed to be settling in for some fun and games.

Some days I think the left side of my body is cursed. Knee surgery on the left knee in college. A dog brush to the ankle in the early 1990's caused permanent nerve damage and lots of pain for a long time. Stress fracture in the lower leg that I walked on for months before a podiatrist finally figured it out. Tendon surgery + removal of Morton's Neuroma the next summer in the left foot. Ligament surgery the next summer in the left foot. Not to mention having my crutches slip out from under me two weeks later on a marble floor after an unexpected downpour at which point I felt something lovely tear in the ankle. I lived with that for years until it quit hurting – just found out in an MRI that I had actually tore a tendon.

So – when running the Wasatch Crest with Leslie Peterson last August, it was a bit worrisome that every once in a while if I hit a rock wrong, it felt like a bruise on the bottom of my foot. It didn't last for long – but I should have got a clue.

Fast forward to the first Saturday in October. Leslie and I were running the St. George Marathon and I was feeling really good. Strong, healthy, happy. Until mile 9. At mile 9 the bottom of my foot started hurting. By mile 10, every time the left foot hit, I was in pain. By mile 13, I was in agony. Was it a bruise? I had no idea. But my race went totally in the toilet at mile 13 and we switched from me encouraging Leslie every step of the way in the first half to her encouraging me every step of the way in the second half. Needless to say – it was not a good day.

I broke down and finally went to the podiatrist. Turns out that lovely bruising feeling was no longer Plantar Fasciitis, but had turned into Plantar Fasciosis (advanced and chronic PF). He put a pressure pad in my orthotic to keep pressure on the PF and I was supposed to ice it and use BioFreeze three times a day.

At the end of October, I ran in the Ft. Bliss Marathon. My daughter KT Taped my foot and even though I DNF'd the race at mile 19 because the concrete and boredom had made the race no fun, the foot did not hurt at all while running. I was sure I was cured.

No such luck. Pretty soon my foot was hurting even when I was not running, walking, putting pressure on it, etc. Burned. Kept me awake at night. Made me limp. Made me dread running at all because then it would be worse.

So, on my 52nd birthday, I had PF surgery to poke holes in that sucker and get it healing. My doctor says I had one of the most crapped up PF's he had ever seen – it was full of scar tissue. At least I strive to aim high in some things!

Recovery was slow – but I actually followed directions. Dr. Steve told me I would be back to running marathons and 50K's by the middle of March. Nope – my foot was once again hurting from even short runs and standing on it for long caused a lot of pain (amputation was starting to sound like a good option). MRI's and cortisone shots didn't solve anything – but it turns out my calcaneus/ankle bone was out of joint and that relieved the worst of the pain.

Should be good.



The outer left side of the foot had been numb after the surgery. Now it started hurting more and more often. Never had problems with my arch (other than PF) – but now long runs made the arch burn.

Yesterday I broke down again and went back to Dr. Steve. He quickly diagnosed the arch burning as tendonitis from the large toe. The pain on the side of the foot (which got really bad starting a week ago) was also tendonitis.

Treatment – roll the arch and bottom of the foot 3x per day on an iced lacrosse ball – digging in as hard as I can. BioFreeze. Tape the bottom and side of the foot for the other tendonitis. Ice it. After only 24 hours, I am starting to see a difference.

I have to admit I am looking forward to the day that I will actually be pain free for the first time in that foot in a year. I am positive it will be soon.

On the running side of things – 10 miles today on the Porter Rockwell Trail. Mini taper will now occur since I need to fumble through Park City Marathon next weekend. I'm not ready for it – but know I can finish it.

Keep on running. One step at a time. Very true mottos for this past year.

Pipeline Trail

On July 26th – I was feeling the need for some trails and some outdoor time. Took a half day off work (somehow I ended up working almost all of Pioneer Day) and headed to the mountains. I had not run the Pipeline Trail from Birch Hollow up to Elbow Fork for a while – so started out and did that section up to the road. Cooled down in the stream for a few minutes and then headed back down the trail. This first section of the run was pretty nice because there weren't a lot of bikers and runners out – as it got towards evening, more and more showed up.

I was having a good old time on the run – enjoying the heat, listening to management podcasts, loving being outside.

Continued on after I got back to the main Pipeline Trail and ran to the overlook and back. I was surprised at how crappy the air was in the valley. A lot more pollution than I had been expecting. So I was glad I was above it all. I debated going up Grandeur Peak – but decided that would be best for another day. My foot was starting to burn, so called it a day at 18 miles of trails.

No faceplants! Gotta love those days.

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Pacing Challenges

I have paced at two races this year since my foot has started to heal. Both have turned out to be very challenging. I have gotten to know a race director (RD) as a result and I really like the guy, but he needs to step up his efforts at race organization if he wants to continue to succeed.

The last Friday in July, my friend, Leslie Petersen agreed to pace the 3:00 group for the Provo Midnight Half Marathon starting at 10 p.m. (Why can't these races start at 9:30 p.m.? It's fairly dark and no one is going to complain about finishing a little earlier). I asked the RD prior to the race why he didn't require headlamps and he said it would be bright enough with moonlight and he couldn't require them. Really? Have you not read the articles about women being attacked on the Provo River Parkway Trail? And we were running at night out to Utah Lake and back? I really wish I had ignored Leslie's wishes and carried my .22 revolver. At least we were together and had good headlamps.

The race started and it was a hot night, so I knew it was going to be a struggle to be on pace. At 3 miles in, we were running with a woman that was having a hard time getting her foot to loosen up. We pondered whether one of us was to stay on the 3:00 pace and one with her, but I had already decided at that point in time we were not leaving a woman to run alone at the back. Running through the trees I was really grateful for the headlamps because that trail has lots of bumps from tree roots and most of the trail is in deep woods with no light leaching through. Shortly after 3 miles, I declared that we had switched from pacing to sweeping because I felt that was the way we needed to go.

A little before the turnaround, I saw another young woman without a headlamp struggling. I told Leslie to go ahead with her new running pal and dropped back with this woman. She had bronchitis and was really struggling, but wanted to finish. I told her I would hang with her. I'm glad I did. There were a few points on the way back when we were startled by noises in the bushes of either large animals or humans. (I was later told that other pacers saw people watching them from the trees – glad I didn't know that then). I started telling the aid station people that they could close down after we passed through. I also started picking up all the glow sticks and throwing them out. Since we were moving slow – it gave me something to do to pass the time.

We didn't finish until about 3:45 (1:45 a.m.) and I spoke with the RD about my concerns. He was grateful for the decisions I had made and admitted that he had underestimated the trail. I did get a free race entry into another race as a result and he contacted me a few days later and asked if I would sweep the Legacy Moonlight Half Marathon in July.

Recommendations: If he does this race again – ALL runners should have to have headlamps or flashlights as a requirement and he should have one to two men on bicycles as protection at the back of the race.

Late night, tired, heat, stomach upset all night. I did count it as good training for ultrarunning during the night.

Three weeks later – the next race came up. I hadn't planned on having a big push at work that same night – so it added a little to the stress. Finished up testing and raced up to Farmington to make sure I didn't miss the last bus.

This time they ran out of bug spray. RD – more bug spray please? Especially if you keep us standing next to a stream/river where the mosquitos like to hang out.

The race started and I jogged along picking up hundreds of glow lights. I had a fanny running pack on and by the first aid station it was overflowing (and glowing) with all the lights I picked up. People were so kind to throw them way off the path and I had to chase them down. RD – another suggestion – some garbage cans the first and second mile for people to toss them in instead of just on the ground.

At mile 2 we came upon a couple that was walking slowly. The woman was in pain and had hurt her foot. I found she wanted to drop out, but didn't know how, so called the RD and he agreed to send a car to the mile 3 aid station and get her. Once the husband was assured I would hang with her, he gave into her encouragement and took off running. Once the aid station was in sight, I ran ahead to let the volunteers know the situation and ran alone until the mile 5 aid station. About mile 5.5 I saw a woman standing by the side of the trail and stopped to talk to her. Her hip had given out with arthritis and she was waiting for someone to pick her up on the road to the dump. I didn't feel comfortable leaving her alone, so waited 15 minutes until her ride arrived. Couldn't get hold of the RD on the phone, so left a message. RD – need to have a way to make sure phone calls go through in the middle of the night.

Another 2 mile run and I caught up to the last two women. One was very nauseous and sick, but wanted to continue on with the race. I hung with them to the end. My headlamp died about then – so I was glad there actually was moonlight. At the mile 9 aid station, I chewed the teenage boys out because there were cups all along the ground. They said there wasn't enough garbage cans and I told them to gather them into piles at a minimum – but they pretty well blew me off. I could tell them hadn't bothered trying to clean up at all.

Cows in the dark can be pretty scary. Just saying? Luckily I didn't run into any skunks, but the women I was with saw one earlier.

Mile 11 aid station was abandoned before we got there. I could see them loading a van a quarter mile away – but no drinks were left – just a big pile of garbage.

About mile 12 – I called in because I knew we needed to turn – but not where. We got back on course for a little while, but got lost. I finally said we would follow the road and come out in the front. I ran the last half mile to let them know where we were and that we were finishing. It was 2:07 when my stragglers finished.

The RD mentioned it had been a rough night. The 5K and 10K were long (significantly long). How hard is it to mark even 1.5 and 3 miles from the finish and put aid stations there? I think he did the turnarounds based on where he could get aid stations and that was problematic. No aid station should have closed down before we passed through and if the people marking the path were leaving – they should have left some kind of signal/marking to show where to turn.

Final suggestion – there should probably be a realistic cutoff time and a method to get runners off the course if they miss that cutoff time. I understand that people pay for a race and want to finish – but they also need to consider the staff and worried family.

Two pacing jobs done for the year. Both a challenge. But lots of training for running after a full days work and when tired.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Ragnar 2013

I've never participated in a Ragnar race prior to this. Mainly because I don't hang out socially with a lot of people and partly because I didn't want to pay the costs.

This year, my company, HRN Performance Solutions, decided to sponsor a Ragnar team for teambuilding and wellness initiative reasons. We had quite a few employees in Michigan, Kansas and Utah agree to participate. Months later – some participants had left the company, some had family events they couldn't miss, some were injured, etc. That left us with one employee running on our 12 person team. Once my doctor gave me the go ahead, I joined the team again, so we now had one employee in each six person van.

After a shout out on Facebook, my van filled out. In addition to myself, and my boss/friend Michele Lindsay (acting as driver), we had an ultrarunning friend (Carol Harlow), a coworkers son (Rusty Hendrycks) and three of my nephews (Jon, Jeff and Scott Miles) in our van.

Michele and I both had a stressful month and we just wanted it to be over. At that point in time I was not really expecting to enjoy Ragnar at all.

Race day came. I drove Michele's Durango for the day until she joined us at Sundance in the evening. We had a 9:30 start time and packed up early and got on the road.

Race time – We were in the Thursday/Friday race and started at 9:30 Thursday morning. 20 of us went off at gun time and I was left in their dust within a couple of minutes. Lots of uphill until I hit the BST in Logan and then I got to run the BST over until it passed Logan Canyon and then ran on the road. I was pretty well alone the entire race, but was glad when my van met me twice to cheer me on and give me new water. First leg went well and I pushed myself to run more than I had since the injury.

Throughout our first legs, we were pretty well alone. Made for long, lonely runs but it was nice to see the van pull together and cheer each other on and worry about each other in the heat.

After turning the running over to Van 2 – we headed up to Snowbasin to recover before our next legs. Michele and Paul and Kristy Hendrycks showed up right before I started leg 13. Leg 13 involved a run (okay – be honest – a walk) up a ski hill and then over to Snowbasin Road and then down Trapper's Loop. Much of this was in the dark but I had selected my position because I loved running this downhill in training. Other than the uphills, I was actually able to run most of the downhill. I felt slow but strong. The foot was holding up.

Day 2 left me with a 5 mile run where I was actually able to pass several people that had gone off to fast on day 1 and were walking their sections.

Overall – our team did well and finished in the top 3rd. We were all hot and tired but happy.

I've heard several ultrarunners "dis" on Ragnar and make fun of it. I'm kind of disappointed reading that. I think Ragnar has the following benefits:

  • Team building – it was very effective in helping us all support each other and cheer each other on.
  • Getting people running – I think a lot of people run Ragnar because of the social aspects. To me – anything that gets people up and moving and active is beneficial.
  • Challenging yourself – I pushed myself so that my team would do better overall. Sometimes in a race alone, I just want to finish and don't push harder than I need to. As a result of Ragnar – I am now able to run for several miles without needing a walking break.

I still think Ragnar is too expensive considering they mainly organize the exchanges and provide water if needed. But I don't regret participating and enjoyed myself thoroughly.

Monday, May 27, 2013

Back on the Trails - finally

Running has not been fun since the day of last year's St. George Marathon. That was the first day that I realized I had something seriously wrong with my left foot.

In November I had surgery to clear up the Plantar Fasciosis. In January, my doctor cleared me to start running and assured me that I would be able to run the Buffalo Run 50K in March and the Big Sur Marathon in April. I wish. Things didn't go as I planned.

In April I went back to the doctor in an effort to discover why I was still constantly in pain and why it was getting worse. We suspected a tear in the Plantar Fascia – but an MRI ruled that out. Doctor Steve looked at the MRI and found that my Medial Calcanial Nerve and Superior Calcanial Nerve in the left foot were more than twice the normal size. This nerve ran from the inside of the ankle, under the foot and over to the outside of the ankle. This explained the pain in those areas. He gave me a cortisone injection (ouch!) in the ankle and for the first time in months I remembered what it is like to be pain free. Eight days later the pain started up again – but I sure enjoyed the break. I got another cortisone injection three weeks later (even more of an ouch!) and this time it did not appear to take.

I started researching the option of doing a heat treatment on the nerve that would block the pain for 6-24 months. This did not thrill me. Then a minor miracle happened.

Last Tuesday I was out finishing up a 3 mile run. I was to the point that I figured if I am going to be in pain, I might as well run. Not running was not stopping the pain. I turned off of 8400 South onto 700 East and a voice in my head, clear as day, said – "See if your chiropractor is available." I was right in front of my chiropractor's office at that point in time, so I walked in and asked him if he could look at my ankle. He replied that I might have to wait since he had a patient scheduled to come in right then – but the phone rang and that patient cancelled.

After explaining the problems I was having, Dr. Awerkaamp said he thought he could help me. He began to work on my lower back, knee and ankle. When he looked at my ankle, it was very stiff and I heard a huge pop as he manipulated it. He said my Calcanius was out of place and could have been putting pressure on the nerve.

Walking home from the chiropractor, it felt like I was walking funny and my foot striking totally different.

Wednesday night – 5 miles. No pain until about mile 4.

Another adjustment Thursday afternoon. We could both tell that the ankle had loosened up significantly already.

Thursday night – headed up to Little Cottonwood Canyon and did the Little Cottonwood Trail. Walked up to the top and ran most of the way down. No pain until about mile 5. 7 miles total between the Little Cottonwood Trail and the Quarry Trail as a cooldown. Felt wonderful to be back on trails! I missed them so much.

Friday morning – 9 miles in Dimple Dell. Walked up for 4.5 miles (ran any downhills) and then ran the downhills back down and another cooldown. 7 miles before I felt any pain. Spooked a deer about 10 feet away from me at one point.

Saturday – rest day.

Sunday – hiked the Mueller Park Trail up to Elephant Rock with my son. Rolled my left foot a couple of times running down and the pain started about mile 5 because of that. Used a neoprene brace the rest of the day to be safe. 7 miles.

Monday – walked (and ran downhills) Jeremy Ranch Road almost to the pavement and back. 14 miles total. No pain until mile 11. Burning started at mile 12. I have not been able to do over 11 miles since the surgery – so this is a huge improvement for me in less than a week.

The endurance is pretty bad and I am not running a lot of the time, but will start picking up my running more this week. It feels so good to be out of pain and I hope that these adjustments will allow the ankle to continue to heal.

Friday, April 19, 2013

Missing my adventures and marathon thoughts

Marathon thoughts

I was at a Talent Management conference in Las Vegas on Monday when I heard the tragic news of the Boston Marathon hit me. I was in shock a lot of the afternoon. Several thoughts were running through my mind:

  1. Why would anyone target a marathon (especially Boston!) for a terrorist attack? How will this change my sport over the years?
  2. Were all my friends and family at the race safe? Thank heavens for Facebook because we were able to connect through their and find out status updates.
  3. How could I deal with guilt that all those I knew were safe, but so many either lost their lives or had their lives permanently changed in a moment of time?

This has been a terrible week in the U.S. So much death and injury. So many impacted. So little I can do.

  • I can volunteer
  • I can donate money
  • I can pray
  • I can give blood
  • I can hug and love my family and be grateful they are all safe (including my running family)

But my heart aches for those that are hurting, mourning and suffering all across this country. I have had a few family members die tragic deaths – much too young. My cousin lost her husband over in Hawaii from a construction accident. Lives changed in a minute. My beautiful sister-in-law was out running and was hit and killed by a pickup truck. Not a day has gone by in the past 14+ years that I do not think of her and remember that awful day. And yet – some good comes out of the bad. That is what I hope for those that are suffering – that there can be some good in their lives and some peace and happiness at some point in time.

One more random thought – I feel bad for the winners of the 2013 Boston Marathon. A moment of a lifetime that will hardly ever be remembered because of the explosions that occurred that day. I had to look them up on the internet to find out who won – because that focus only lasted an hour or two. I congratulate all the winners and all the marathon participants for their efforts that day. I honor all those that protected their families and those that went out of their way to try and save life and limb when the bombs went off.

Where are the Adventures in Running?

Sadly lacking. Sorry – I am letting myself and my few followers down.

My endurance while running was improving and my speed very slowly coming back. But each run left me hurting and almost dreading the next run because I knew that I would be in pain after the run and dreaded the burning and bruised feeling in my foot. Running dropped to 3 or so days a week. Even standing on my foot for a while would make it hurt later.

I finally got a doctor's appointment and told the doctor I was willing to go non-weight bearing if it would help my foot heal. He told me he was very surprised that I was not doing marathons by this point. An ultrasound revealed my plantar fascia had filled up with fluid instead of healing with healthy tissue. They inserted cortisone directly into the PF. I was told to cut down on my running to less than 30 minutes 2 days a week and less than 60 minutes 1 day a week. Plus icing 3 times a day.

The foot felt better for about 48 hours – then it started hurting again. While I was in Vegas I was in almost constant pain – even from just walking around. I now have an MRI scheduled for Monday. Hopefully we will be able to figure out a plan of action from that.

I've cancelled all my summer races – including pacing the Thelma and Louise Half Marathon and Ragnar. At this point – I just want to be out of constant pain.

Of course, being raised on guilt, I also feel guilty that I am whining about measly foot pain when people have lost feet and legs. You just can't win – can you?


Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Epic Fail and Frustration

So far, 2013 has not turned into the running year that I had planned. I was supposed to complete the 50K at the Buffalo Run last weekend on Antelope Island and also be trained and ready for the Big Sur International Marathon at the end of April. Instead, I have dropped my plans to run Big Sur and dropped down to the 25K at the Buffalo Run. The foot is just not recovering as quickly as we had hoped from the Plantar Fasciotomy in November. Too many days I end up with pain in the heel and have to cut back my plans so as to not aggravate the Plantar Fasciitis again. I've cut back even more and am back to doing all the stretching, icing, topical anti-inflammatories, sleeping with the foot in a Strasbourg sock, etc.

I'm sure part of the problem is age. Things definitely recover more slowly as I get older. Another part of the problem is weight. I need to get 20 pounds off to be at a decent running weight. Part of it is working too much – I don't get the weight training in that I need to.

Whatever it is – it is frustrating. I am mad and ashamed of myself. I get depressed. Right now I wonder if I will ever be able to even do a marathon again because 12 miles is about as far as I can get and then I limp the rest of the day.

I am making progress, it is just slow. I run like a dead turtle. No speed, but slow and steady. For the month of March I am focusing on running 3 minutes/walking 1 minute and will increase the running to 4 minutes in April.

Enough of the depressed, bummed out runner…..

Friday and Saturday were the days for the Buffalo Run. This was year 9 and I have volunteered or raced every year – sometimes a bit of both. The plans were that I would volunteer on Friday (100 mile race start), camp out overnight on the island, then run the 25K on Saturday.

Friday morning I was at the gate well before 7 a.m. I was running packet pickup at the gate and Britta Hanel dropped off her friend Alicia and the packets at my Jeep shortly after. I enjoyed several hours sitting in the Jeep trying to stay warm and getting to know Alicia. In the 9 years of the race, we hadn't had too horrible weather, but this weekend was going to be bitter cold and windy. Volunteering I had on thermals, sweats and my snow gear. Brrrr. The most entertaining part of the morning was watching Alicia trying to make coffee in a portable drip coffee maker. I think this was her epic fail because it wasn't working and took an hour to make 1 cup of coffee.

Got to see lots of familiar faces as they picked up packets – Karl Meltzer, Mark Hellenthall, Davy Crockett, Craig Lloyd, Scott Wesemann and Christy Jo Mason McFarland. Was able to meet the Jester (Ed Ettinghausen) and he gave me my own official Jester bracelet. I was also able to put names and faces together of several people I have met online.

We finished packet pickup at 11:30 and headed on island for the start of the 100 mile race. Said hello to running friends again and headed outside for the official start. I was looking the wrong way (actually wanted to see the start) and missed the brilliant person who wanted to take a photo of a buffalo and threw a rock at it and shook the fence. The buffalo objected and pinned the guy against the fence. Luckily – someone got it on their camera so we can preserve it for history. And the guy got a ticket from the park rangers.

The 100 mile race started and I set up my camp for the night. Really fun setting up a tent in the wind. That was an experience! Then I helped out at the start/finish line for a while until Alicia and I headed over to run the Mountain View aid station for the afternoon. Long story short, it was great to cheer on the runners and watch the lead runners blast through the aid station. Karl Meltzer was cranking his usual speed and went on to set a course record.

After standing around for several hours, I headed up the hill to go off island and meet my sister for dinner. At this point my foot was killing me and I had no hill strength and it became obvious that I was not going to be able to run 16+ miles the next day. I went back to the start/finish and DNS'd (Did Not Start), collapsed my tent with all the gear in it and threw it in the back of the Jeep.

No regrets about not attempting the race. Just regrets that I am not where I want to be and pulled out of another race. Hearing all the stories online about the incredible exploits of the runners and them powering through adversity though has me feeling like a total wimp/wuss/loser. I really hope that I can get back to longer distances running soon, but in the meantime I just have to be patient and take baby steps.

Sunday, January 27, 2013


Having been given permission this week by my podiatrist to showshoe (because people don't snowshoe non-stop (little does he know)) – I promptly signed up for the Kahtoola Bigfoot Snowshoe Festival 5K race on Saturday, January 26, 2013. I've read Jim Skaggs stories about this race in previous years and wanted to give it a try. This seemed like perfect timing and a chance to get out of the muck from the inversion in Salt Lake County.

I'm not a showshoeing expert. In fact, the only time I have ever worn snowshoes was about 10 years ago when I accompanied Kevin and a bunch of Boy Scouts on a cross country skiing/snowshoe overnighter in Northern Utah.

I got up early Saturday morning and packed up my gear. I was a bit worried when I left my condo to see that I could only see a few car lengths ahead because of the fog – and was very glad for fog lights on the Jeep. About ¼ mile up Parleys Canyon the fog ended and it was a pretty day where you could actually see the sky. The fog came back as I approached Midway and Heber, but I had made up good time by then. The snowshoe races were held at the Midway Golf Course that I have run by with Leslie Peterson each year as we run to the Sheepdog Festival. Major sliding in the car as I drove into the parking lot over a large sheet of ice had me a bit worried.

I checked in for the race and rented a pair of snowshoes for $6. There were plenty of people at the race that had never been on snowshoes before – so I was in good company. Said hello to Benjamin Hanel and Jim Skaggs before the race and at 9:00 – we were off.

There were five races being held simultaneously on three different loops. The marathon and 50K started at 8 a.m. The 5K, 10K and 25K started at 9 a.m. It was very frustrating for the first half mile or so because a lot of entrants who had no intentions of running a step started near the front of the pack and were walking side by side with their friends. Bad race etiquette, folks. If you are not serious – start near the back of the pack and don't be a PITA.

My plans were to run 100 steps, walk 100 steps as long as I could and I was able to do this for most of the race. I had seen pictures of the course from previous years and there was a nicely groomed trail. Not so much today. There wasn't a ton of snow and it was very icy, so if you carefully ran with your feet side by side – it was smooth going. Not much wider than that – you were on crusty snow which made the work harder and threw you off balance.

The course was nicely laid out – winding back and forth on the golf course. It got foggy towards the 2 mile mark, but was still a pretty day. One aid station at about 2.4 miles and then it was back to the start for me. I finished the race in 52:35, talked to John Bozung (Race Director) for a few minutes and complimented him on the race, then headed out to walk a second loop for a long snowshoe run.

Towards the last mile, some tenderness in the Plantar Fascia of the left foot – but not too bad overall.

Found out I took 9th out of 25 entrants, 6th out of women and 3rd in my age group.

Next year I plan to take on the 10K and hopefully the 25K the year after that.