Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Salida Trail Marathon by Steve Pero

Town of Salida, Colorado

The Salida Marathon was one of many things....it was our first race of the year, which is always difficult, is at altitude and I've only been here for 8 weeks, not nearly enough to be racing up over 9000' and it was also what will most likely be our shortest and fastest race of the year! All negatives, but this turned out to be an extremely positive experience!

Runners gathering for the start

First of all, the race just gets better the further into it you go. It begins in the small town of Salida, Colorado, which is about 4.5 hours north of our home in Jemez Springs, NM. The running surface starts as an asphalt road for a few miles, which then becomes a dirt road (this has been all uphill, btw), which then becomes a steeper uphill trail to the turnaround and highest point at around 9100' and a little over 10 miles. You then go back down for a bit, take a left onto a jeep road at 13 miles, which eventually becomes a rugged, gnarly and rocky downhill road, some sandy trails, then the final downhill, twisty, turny trail named Li'l Rattler down to the finish. So instead of it's real name, I think it should be named the Salida "it gets better 'n better" Trail Marathon.

One of the many nice sections, this around mile 9

As for my race, I decided to start out at a brisk, but comfortable pace. I wasn't sure how I would react to the altitude at a racing pace having just moved here from NH just 8 weeks ago, but it wasn't as bad as I thought. I knew from past higher races, that I'd have no trouble running down, just on the ups...and the only real issue I had was from around 7 miles to 13 miles when it was up higher than where I live and have been training. My breathing was real heavy and my legs felt like jelly...so I just went with it and did what I could. One thing this did do was allow me to really crank the pace on the downhills and catch many runners who had gone out too fast early on.

But not all of the course was nice smooth road

Hunter Swenson from Los Alamos, running his longest race

I did get to spend some trail time with Hunter, who I had just met at the pre-race checkin. Hunter is a local Los Alamos runner who I hadn't met yet and Jason Halladay introduced me and Deb to. Hunter was pushing the ups a little harder than I could handle, but I soon re-caught him around mile 18 on a beautiful downhill section of the course. I just told him to keep drinking and stay ahead of the gels and he'd be fine. Before I moved on down the hill he took this photo of me.

Photo of me with Salida and the mountains in behind
This is around mile 18

Just after passing Hunter on an extremely steep and rocky downhill section, my toe caught something and I did a good Superman impression, actually flying with my arms outstretched, but tucked them under me as I landed, remembering the broken arm I got 11 years ago. It's always a shock to faceplant on flat terrain, but on a steep and rocky downhill, it always messes with your head. I got up as quickly as I could, knowing runners would be coming down behind me and made sure nothing was broken. My arms, hand and knees were scraped up with the palm of my left hand taking the full impact and I scraped a good chunk of skin off of it. With blood dripping down off my hand, I started to walk, then jog and within a few minutes could start running again....but I don't think I dared to fly down like I was again in the race.

Right around this corner, I played Superman

Or maybe it was here....

From this point on, I felt great.... catching runners and just flowing down the hills. My goal was to run under 5 hours and if I could keep this pace up, it would be close, but should get it done. I always wonder what surprises would come and at one point in the last 5 miles when I was sure I'd cruise in for that sub 5, we hit a steep and sandy uphill on a hot section. I walked by several runners just bent over at the knees alongside the trail. The warmer (60 degreeish) temps in this canyon section and steeper trail had gotten to them. I had run out of water and the previous aid station (20 miles) only had Gatorade, which my tummy doesn't like, but I took a half bottle with the promise that there was another aid station 3 miles out.

One of the sandy sections in the canyon

What was working really well for me was the First Endurance EFS wild berry liquid shot. It tasted better than the vanilla to me and was watery enough that I didn't need any water to get it down...I just had one flask with me today, which had 400 calories and some electrolytes. I never did sweat much during the race, so didn't need to take any electrolyte caps.

Ahhh, finally some water!
Mile 23ish...

At 23ish miles and near the top of the "S" hill up above Salida I reached the final aid station and yes, she had water...delicious water. The woman that was manning the aid station handed me the bottle and I drank a good half of it right there, knowing that I wouldn't be drinking much more....had to start cranking again to see if there were any more runners I could pass.

This is what running down to the finish looked like on Li'l Rattler

As I made my way down the hill and around the corner, I was able to pass several runners who were just getting it done. In the distance I saw Tom Sobal struggling a bit and stepped the pace up a bit. I knew Tom had won the over 50 division last year and is a legend in trailrunning, snowshoe racing and burro racing, but also knew that 55 year old Steve Bremner from Colorado Springs was probably enjoying his first beer by now... We had maybe a mile to go and Tom stepped aside to allow me to pass on the final narrow single track and at the bottom by the railroad tracks I pushed the pace some more, about as fast as I could manage now, passing yet another struggling runner. I then heard footsteps and with about a 1/4 mile to go and just before the turn under the bridge, Tom went by me like I was standing still....I tried to react, but the legs just couldn't turn over any faster. I pushed down the hill under the bridge, but ran out of real estate...crossing the finish in 4:52. Goal accomplished, but why does there always have to be something that you wished hadn't happened? ;-) It would have been sweet to re-catch Tom and outkick my fellow senior runner to the finish line, but it's just too early in the year for that kind of stuff for this 59 year old runner. And yeah, it will be nice to run next year and maybe be the first over 60, but there was a 62 year old runner just 1 minute and 2 places behind me...so next year I might have to do some hill repeats with the Los Alamos runners before returning here. ;-)

Weather - 30's-60's and sunny, slight breeze
Altitude - 7100' to 9100' and back
Attitude - Felt great, it was a good effort for race #1.

Deb said her race was a fair one, but considering the fact that just 9 weeks ago she was in a serious truck accident, she's lucky to be running at all. She always has trouble going out quickly and needs a long warm up, which is why she does so well in 100 mile races. Here she had to get going right from the start to avoid the tight cutoffs at every aid station, so she pushed it a bit and ended up in a little deficit at mile 18 and it took her until mile 23 to feel like a runner again. Once she regrouped, she was able to get running again and brought it in just over 6 hours in first in her age group... according to the RD, Jon McManus, but looking at the results it shows a woman ahead of her at age 54, so we don't know what happened. There seems to be many misprints in the results, so maybe this is one of those. Regardless, her race was a success considering the accident. She figures she lost a good 30 minutes during her down period.

Deb getting it done...

So #1 of the year in the books...and it went well for both of us considering. After many years of racing in the East, it is going to be fun running against most of who are Coloradans, or so it seems. Maybe in a few more months my lungs will cooperate a little better in the thinner air.

For results go here:

For the rest of my pictures I took during the race go here:

We were thinking of the Collegiate Peaks 50 as our next race, but May is so heavy with miles planned and our first big race being in June (San Juan Solstice 50 miler), that we are reconsidering and just going to stay home and train. We have the wonderful MTNRNR series to run every weekend and also will be sweeping the Jemez 50 mile, which is about 40 miles and that would be the weekend after CP50, so possibly too much. We've moved up to #'s 18 and 20 in the Hardrock Hundred wait list, so we're still hopeful for that and will train as if we are in the race.

So with that the race schedule is:
July - Hardrock (hopefully) and Speedgoat 50K
August - nothing (yet)
Sept - Wasatch 100 (Deb) and Bear 100 (Me)
Oct - Nothing planned yet, but hopefully a Grand Canyon R2R2R
Nov - I turn 60, so will find something ;-)

So that's it and until the next post....Happy trails!
Steve and Deb

This is me the next morning on a hike with Deb and the dogs....
....all bandaged up from the fall.

Orcas 50k by Monica Ochs

It has been two weeks since Orcas 50k and I am off on a plane tomorrow morning to Austin for a marathon so I suppose it is time to do a little Orcas recap! James knows how to put on a race!! It actually feels more like a party. Good friends, beautiful trails, delicious food and drinks, and a few little hills thrown in just for the heck of it! I was worried this 50k would be a suffer fest considering I have not felt like myself ever since Colorado in August. I have been dealing with shortness of breath even running with very little effort. I also started a new job in January so my training has not been up to par. Well, it ended up working out well. I took it easy and considered it would be a good run to begin my WS training. I certainly felt my lungs working, especially on the power line trail but it was a normal working. Not a wheezing, feel like I am going to die, working. The day was beautiful (check out Glenn's photos) and it felt like home reconnecting with my trail running buddies. My time was way slower than in years past but that is what my plan was. Results here. If you are ever looking for a race with views from Canada to Rainier, 8000 some feet of elevation gain, and great amenities check out this run! It is a perfect season opener!

My story of the 2011 Mountain Mist 50km (by Robert Youngren)

My story of the 2011 Mountain Mist 50km

What possessed me to focus my training on the Mountain Mist 50km this year? I can’t really pin my reason on any one thing.  I think that regularly training with several like minded folks really helped make my decision easy though.  Late last summer I began to join the guys at work for their Tuesday Lunchtime Track Beat Down.  I struggled mightily at first as I hadn’t done any structured speed work in years, let alone set foot on a track since my collegiate track running days.  But I couldn’t resist, I was feeling burned out of my routine and wanted to do something different, train with some other folks, work to improve my speed.  So after taking on the 335 Pinhoti Trail last May and half-heartily scrapping by the Lean Horse 100 Mile in September I went back to basics.  Cut my weekly mileage back significantly, cut down the length of my long run and began to do more speed work and tempo runs.

Race Report: 12 Hours of Moab by Chris Boyack

The 24 Hours of Moab is a race with a lot going on.  In addition to the 24 hour event (which is run as a team relay or solo), there is a 100 mile race, 12 hour team or solo, and a 6 hour "fun run".  The course is a 5.4 mile loop around a giant mesa about 15 miles north of Moab.  While the course wasn’t extremely difficult, it was definitely harder than I expected.  The first and last parts of each lap were rolling to flat dirt, about equal parts road and trail.  With a few stretches of deep sand to keep things interesting.  The middle half of the loop was a long climb on bumpy slickrock, with a short flat stretch, and then a long descent on slickrock.
I hadn’t raced an ultra since the Leadville 100 in August of last year.  I hurt my foot in September and ended up logging a whopping 200 miles combined total over October, November, and December while letting it heal.  I started training again on January 1st not really knowing what my first race would be, just playing it by ear.  While I had only averaged 45 miles per week so far this year, I had been getting in some solid long runs and soon felt the need to scratch the ultra itch.

La-la-land, or a lesson to run your own race and always trust your body.

There was an article in NYT that one of our runners pointed out attention to - and sent a link to Hill Country list. Even if you don't bother to read it, here is a sum up: "In a groundbreaking 2003 experiment, scientists at the Georgia Institute of Technology found that 50 minutes of hard running on a treadmill or riding a stationary bicycle significantly increased blood levels of endocannabinoid molecules in a group of college students. The endocannabinoid system was first mapped some years before that, when scientists set out to determine just how cannabis, a k a marijuana, acts upon the body. They found that a widespread group of receptors, clustered in the brain but also found elsewhere in the body, allow the active ingredient in marijuana to bind to the nervous system and set off reactions that reduce pain and anxiety and produce a floaty, free-form sense of well-being. Even more intriguing, the researchers found that with the right stimuli, the body creates its own cannabinoids (the endocannabinoids). These cannabinoids are composed of molecules known as lipids, which are small enough to cross the blood-brain barrier, so cannabinoids found in the blood after exercise could be affecting the brain." The response was pretty cool. While some can relate, a few of runners (at least of those who responded) don't have a clue on being high front. To me, this paragraph made complete sense. As I say, once an addict is always an addict:) But, in all seriousness, I call it "zen", or running in La-la-land. Don't take me wrong, I get to work when I run, and I breathe hard, and I hurt. However, I wouldn't be doing it if I didn't get "high" off it. To tell you the truth, I get high even from the gym workouts or hard core yoga sessions, but nothing beats running, the repetitive motion of it, the simpleness, the rhythm...  A week before the race I invited Larry and Harrison to join me in North Texas (Stephen flew to Portland for the weekend). To make a change in room accomodation, I called in the rmorning of - and found out the hotel had never gotten my Expedia reservation. 3 hours and numerious phone calls later, we were set - only to start driving after work and discover I left my iPod at my work place. I burst into tears. Of course, nothing is the end of the world, and I ran races music-less, but I planned on it that way, and today I didn't! Larry to the rescue - he said he needs a new shuffle anyway, and pointed out to Best Buy off the road. Since I had my laptop with me, he downloaded the music (we even did some selection while I drove and he combined the playlist) - and I was saved! I was ready for this race. I was at the weight I like to race at, I had solid fast workouts, I just ran a marathon I was happy with, and I was looking forward to the hills. This race is built as toughest trail race in Texas - and so it was...if only I knew in what way. I had a goal. I studied the times, and Mariela seem to "own" the race for many years, finishing between 10:30 and 11 hrs. Not to disrespect the girl who raced there over 10 times, I figured I'll go for sub-10. Why not? It's a personal challenge, not a fight. There were usual suspects at the start line, like we never parted from the previous race, and we all laughed. But as I lined up at the front line with Scott and Brian, I tried to crack jokes how others should join us - yet there was a weird gap behind. I don't deal well with pressure, not at all. And it sent me bolted off the start, running behind these two guys up some gnarly steep hill...and another one. Before I knew it, in 5 minutes flat, I had a metallic taste in my mouth and burning quads filled with lactic acid. What the heck am I doing??!! And where did these hills came from? The "meet the Crosstimbers trail" had begun...  Stolen from other blog  I heard the rumors, but you really never know what hit you when you're at this beautiful Lake Texoma side trail on the border with Oklahoma. Oh, My God! There was no rhythm. The ups and down were super-sharp (I should have believed when reports said "pull yourself up with hands"), the technicality of the trails exceeded any expectations. Roots, roots and more of them. High up, downs as sharp and steep as ups - not to mention the race was made up of one 12.5M trail run out-n-back twice, so you get to experience everything both directions. And it was humid - for now just that. I was throwing salt pills in my mouth like a kid who eats candy after a Halloween. And I was still cramping. Every time I pick a root, jam my foot or step sideways, my calf would go nuts. I was petrified of falling and not being able to get up.  Somewhere half-way through that first "out" section a few guys passed me, and each mentioned "oh, it's not good to get by you". I joked, but I wasn't sure at that time. I kept thinking about that "high", my la-la-land, and I couldn't find it. I pushed, trying to meet my standards, and I wasn't enjoying it much, despite the incredible beauty of the trail - and majestic views of the lakes. I was mad at myself, and couldn't shake it off. I was ready to quit...was I not recovered from a marathon? Was I not trained for the hills on the trails? Should I have NOT run hard 15 trail miles on Saturday before? Is the fact that I was proud of "running every hill on the road" overtook and made me mistakenly run hills here at the beginning? Why did I not listen to my senses and didn't start further back and easier? All this was going through my head, as in the last mile the trail went through the dense woods with long runnable stretch - and I found it. My Zen, my la-la-land. And it all fell in together... Race photo Larry and Harrison were waiting for me with crewing duty, filled my bottles and gave me gels for the next 12.5M stretch back. I wanted to share how tough this trail was, but got my own treatment - nobody asked me any questions, never let me open my mouth and I was sent back. So much for love:) I was mad, but I was laughing at the same time. Learned from a champ, he did. Swallow it, sister! My gate opened up. There were 2 girls right behind, in fact, one passed me shortly after the turn-around, and I told myself: I can only take care of me. There is nothing I can do about other people's race, only about my own. Breathe, eat, drink, and trust your body. Trust that it knows the pace, it is strong, trust your own training, trust that it knows what to do, when to walk, when to run, don't think. Don't think. That's my motto. La-la-land. This is my best running. Let my body do the "thinking" on its own. And I did... The humidity was high, and my skirt was being pulled down, funny how it was. But I was running strong and smiling. I won't bore you with details. Larry and Harrison met me at 25M, and then at 37.5M. During these times I clicked guys who passed me, one by one, and slowly pulled away from the girls. Larry was mentioning later how AS volunteers were surprised seeing me ahead of many who were running in front at loop 1, and that I looked strongest and happiest. One aid station volunteer actually asked me why am I smiling. Steady. La-la-land. I ran my first split in 2:30, and the next 3 splits were done all in 2:45. Talking about trusting your body! I drunk and ate ice like a maniac, the only thing I used at AS, besides 2 cups of Mt. Dew. I popped salt and gels and downed 2 bottles per 40 minutes easily. My calves finally stopped cramping around mile 35 or so, but they felt sore - so funny, like they were tired of cramping. The sun came up high on 3rd section, and it was hot, but the clouds rolled in on the last one. I could care less about time - I lost my math skills. I was trusting my body to do what it knows how to do. Somewhere with an hour and half to go, I had finally decided to pay attention to the watch - and was able to calculate that 11 hrs was within reach, although I still had to work for it. I could picture Larry saying proudly "Yes, she is like that, never fades. Yes, if I know my wife, she'll go for sub-11 because she likes round numbers. Yes, she will pass everybody she can and will hold them off". I was so happy he was there to share it with me. And work I did. I made myself run every time I could find a place to run. I was working hard - la-la-land and all. I was still sneaking peeks to the lake and dreaming of jumping off the cliff into cool waters. And I was NOT giving up my position! Harrison came around the corner, and I knew I have one last downhill. "Run" I yelled, and followed his steps. 10:51. I wished to cry - but was laughing instead. I obnoxiously came to break 10 hrs, but instead worked my ass off to go sub-11. I cracked jokes and couldn't stop smiling. I won female race and came 4th overall. I deserved every bit of that fame at the finish line - toughest little trail race in Texas. The Lake Texoma trail at Crosstimbers 50 chewed me up and spat me out - but I held my own. Something to be proud of... I was crippled and crying in bed last night, and Larry jokingly said "So, why do we do it?". For those 15 minutes of happiness. And for 11 hours of running in La-la-land... Photo tour - great views! My gear – my trusted La Sportiva Skylites! Knowing this trail didn’t have much in terms of wet rocks to slide on, the smooth ride of Skylites provided best fit and close touch for better navigating the twisted trails. It was like running wearing only socks – who need barefoot?