Sunday, June 28, 2009

Logan Peak Trail Run

Logan Peak 28 mile Trail Race

I ran the first annual Logan Peak Trail Race in 2007 and took pictures of the race in 2008. Both years it was a very small race with around 40 people on the start line. A couple of weeks before the race it looked like it would be small line up again. I was surprised when arrived that it looked liked at least double the number had showed up. Also the field looked to be stronger when I noticed Ty Draney, Corbin Talley, Jonathan Allen, Leland Barker, Karl Jarvis, Shane Martin, David Hayes and Eric Taft. After seeing these guys I knew it was going to be very hard to place in the top ten. I was traveling for work all week so I had a forced taper and had screwed up my back pretty good moving office furniture so I wasn’t even sure if I would be able to run the whole course or not, and if I could go the distance I wasn’t sure how I would feel.

Co R.D Bruce Copeland sent 79 of us off a few minutes past 6:00 am, 10-15 guys took off pretty fast and were already a couple minutes ahead of me by the time we hit the Dry Canyon trail just 1 mile from the start and we started the long 4 mile climb up to the first aid station. My legs felt dead and I seemed to be working really hard to just maintain a descent pace up the canyon. I decided not to force the pace and settled in behind Eric Taft. I would catch sight of Leland Barker every once in a while ahead of us so I didn’t feel like we were going to slow. I arrived at the first aid station still feeling sluggish, filled my bottles and headed out on slightly overgrown single track, soon after I hit the first snow patch of the day, as I approached I thought to myself that there appeared to be no tracks, I soon knew why as I went for a decent slide and ended up in the bushes, the snow was basically a block of ice. No harm was done and I continued on to aid station 2 still feeling slow but having no issues.

I arrived at aid station 2/3 mile 12 in a little over two hours and started the big out and back climb up to Logan Peak elevation 9,710 feet. You basically climb a dirt road for 1.5 miles and 1,200 vertical feet than return the same way you went up. There was some snow but nothing too bad. I like this part of the race because you get to see the front runners and see how fast or slow you are going.I saw the lead group on their way down about ¾ of the way from the top. It was a group of 4 or 5 with Ty and Corbin in the lead. David Hayes was a few minutes back followed closely by Leland and 3 or 4 other guys I didn’t know. So I figured I was somewhere around 11th or 12th place. I arrived back at aid station 3-4 mile 15.5 at close to 3:15 hrs. into the race

My legs started to feel good and my back felt fine as long as I didn’t bend over so I decided it was time to try and push the pace a little. I knew there was a lot of down hill to come but I also knew there were some nasty little climbs left and this is were I figured I could catch a few people. I have been pounding the down hills lately in training trying my best to keep up with Erik, Christian and Peter so I had some hope of not being passed on the down hill sections like I usually do.

I did manage to pass 3 or 4 people on the way to aid station 4. This is also the nicest part of the race as it is almost all nice forested single track and you can really push the pace if you are feeling good. I was in and out of aid station 4 in 5 seconds and pushed as hard as I dared all the way down Dry Canyon trying not look over my shoulder. Just at the bottom of the canyon I caught sight of a runner ahead, which was perfect as it gave me a rabbit to chase to keep the pace up to the end. Turns out it was Leland and I got to within a 100 yards of him but as soon as he realized I was closing on him he picked up the pace just enough that even with my best effort I could not make any gains on him. Leland finished just ahead of me for 8th place and I finished in 9th with a time of 4:57.

The Logan Peak Trail Race has been getting better every year. The field is getting bigger and deeper. The race directors had extra aid stations on course and I don’t think I have raced a better marked course yet. The aid stations were great and there was lots of prizes and great food at the finish line. Plus the top three placed runners male and female walked away with a little cash.(150.00 dollars for first place male and female). The first place winner overall was Jonathan Allen in a time of 4:26 breaking the course record by 25 min. Sarah Evans took first place women's, breaking the female course record set by none other than Sarah in a time of 5:25. She is now a 3 time female winner of the race. The distance of 28 miles make this a great mid season race to keep your racing form with out beating yourself up to much. Hopefully with the continued efforts of Race Directors Bruce Copeland and Scott Datwyler the race will continue to grow. Full results should be available soon on the race website

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Bowman Fork - Desolation Trail Loop

Last Saturday Peter, Greg and I decided to give the big loop a try. I thought it might be a little early in the season but I figured it might present a few training obstacles that could come in handy in a few weeks. Plus I really wanted to get in a good amount of vertical and mileage. This route is one of my favorites because it has all the qualities I look for in a run, it's a loop, has some very runnable sections, lots of vertical and rugged terrain, plus it's close to home.

At about 6am we left the car at Church fork and headed up to the pipeline for the most boring part of the trail. The one small downer on making this a loop is that we have to hit the road at Birch Fork then head up the Terraces picnic area to get to the Bowman trailhead (alternatively I've thought about going all the way to Elbow fork then take the connector back over to Bowman). We made good time going up Bowman since the trail was in good shape and we didn't hit any snow until just below Baker Pass. However, the closer we got to the pass the harder the wind blew and once we got over the pass into Mill A basin we could see a storm coming over the Big/Little Cottonwood ridge. That, combined with the rain that started to fall, increased our pace a bit as we made our way around Mt Raymond back over to the Millcreek side.

Then the real fun started. for the next hour or so we spent a considerable amount of time traversing the remaining snow fields and finding the upper Desolation trail. There were some great sections of glissading which was great fun, but the traverses on the slippery spring snow started wearing on me a bit. Just before we gained the pass below Thayne's Peak the snow let up and we cruised the remaining descent back to the car. In the end we got 19 miles and 4,350' vertical in a little over 4 hours.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Steeplechase 2009

I was going to write a ling and lengthy epistle of this year's Steeplechase, but I'm tired. Here's the condensed version.

I originally didn't plan on running it, but my brother was signed up and decided to go to California instead (what's he thinking, sun and surf instead of 3+ hours of agony?), so why let a perfectly good registration go to waste.

My legs were definitely not recovered from Squaw Peak the week before, and were tired from the day before's Grandeur loop with Greg and Christian. I was thinking 3 hours would be a reasonable time to finish. As I thought, the legs were tired on the climb up to the crags, I took my time scrambling across the crags, and got to Smuggler's Notch in 1 hour 33 minutes, about 15 minutes slower than usual. The descent to City Creek was as overgrown as ever, with added mud from all the recent rain. Luckily I managed to stay on trail and not have to climb my way back up through the jungle. I got to City Creek leading a group of 5 or 6 that had caught up to me, including Dave Larsen, Chuck Konopa, Mic Jurynek, Mark Christopherson and a couple others. They all took off once we hit the road and I thought I'd take it easy the last 7 miles. After a few minutes and a gel, I noticed my legs feeling a little better, picked up the pace and I started passing people. I eventually got within about 50 yards of Dave, he saw me, sped up and I never saw him again. I finished in 2 hours 38 minutes, only 6 1/2 minutes off my PR, and the run down City Creek was my fastest ever. Maybe those mile repeats are paying off after all. What a great day for a run! Thanks Greg for the pictures!
The only downside to the day was that Shilling decided to sleep in and didn't show up after promising he would be there. Hmmmmm.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Uinta run

In an effort to get a little bit of altitude and a change of scenery I convinced Greg to join me on the Shingle Creek trail. The trailhead is located just 10 miles east of Kamas on the Mirror Lake Highway only 50 mins from my house. I picked this trail because the drainage has a southern aspect and fairly easy access to the trails above 10,000'. I had no idea what to expect since neither Greg or myself had ever been on this trail, we decided to call it an exploratory mission. All to often I get caught in a trap of running on the same trails because I know exactly what to expect and how long it will take to complete a run. Some of that is driven by time restrictions, but I believe that it's mostly a comfort zone thing. After completing this run I'm convinced that mixing it up is good for the mind.

We hit the trail at 7am with a goal of getting to Big Elk Lake, but first we agreed to turn around at 1hr and 50mins since that's when our supplies would run dry. I was feeling a bit tired from yesterday's run so we just kept a moderate pace heading up the drainage, crossing the river three times on small bridges. Eventually the bridges ran out and we had to cross the cold, knee deep river to continue on up the trail. We made it to our first landmark, East Shingle Creek Lake, but our time was running short. The snow was deep enough through here that we lost the trail but made our way up to the pass, picking the path of least resistance. I knew we didn't have time to make it down into Erickson Basin and over to Big Elk Lake so we started up the north ridge of Wall Peak to gain a little extra vertical. We finally stopped at a shoulder on the ridge with our time up, my watch reading 9,970'. I snapped a few photos, and we ate some food before starting back down.

We got back to the car in 3hrs 30mins, getting in 13 miles and 2,800' vertical. Not exactly setting any speed records but time on the (wet) feet is still a good time.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Uncle Dave in the Trib

Saw this in the paper and had to post it. Happy 50 Dave, see you on the trails.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Squaw Peak 50+ Race Report 2009

I didn't discuss my true goal time with anyone before the race for fear of jinxing it. When we talked about SP on our training runs I would mention that I wanted to go under 9hrs30mins since my previous best was 10:07. It just seemed like the next logical time barrier. My true time goal, and what I was really planning for was a sub 9. My training had gone better than ever this year so I knew my fitness level could handle the pace but I still had to be smart about managing the race.

Peter and I rode down to the race together and met up with the Erik, Greg and Rich before the start. Greg and Peter had made a plan to stick together and gun for PR's below the 10 hour mark. I knew they were both capable of sub 10 but I didn't really thinnk they would be able to stick together for that long, just too many factors to contend with in a 9 to 10 hour span. We all lined up at the gate to paved bike path to get some last second instructions from RD John Bozung before he sent us on our way at 5am. A few minutes down the pavement and a front group of 10 to 12 of us formed led by Scott Jaime . Shortly before the turn on to the trail the group was down to six that included Scott, Kevin Shilling, Dave Holt, Erik Storheim, Ryan Cooper and myself. The front 3 kept a torrid pace while Erik, Ryan and myself settled in behind and eventually lost sight of them on the winding singletrack. I had briefly met Ryan while we were signing in before the race when Peter had introduced us. I remember Peter saying "stick with Christian, he knows the course well". At any rate, I started chatting more with Ryan as we climbed to the 2nd aid station and got to know him a little better. As with most folks I meet in the ultra world, Ryan was super nice and he shared some of his vast racing experience with Erik and I. Shortly after the 2nd aid station the three of us became separated by a minute or so each and leapfrogged each other all the way to Pole Heaven (aid station 5) because of our frequent nature breaks (I think there was something in the water).

Just before aid station 6 I caught up to Ryan and left just before he did. I checked my watch and I was about 2 mins slower than my pace goal to this point, which made me quite happy since I still felt so good. Erik was no more than a minute behind as I started running up the 4wd road to Sheep Creek. The previous three times I've done this race I always walk this section, but today I felt great, so I just kept plugging along, happy with the pace I was running. I hit the Sheep Creek aid station where Karl and Scott Mason set me up with some red bull and potatoes before booting me out of there. Still feeling good at this point I decided to back off the pace just a little on the climbs and keep my stomach in order for the climb up to Windy Pass. About a mile or so before the descent into the Little Valley aid station Erik caught up to me and we ran into Little Valley together. I grabbed some gels from my drop bag, filled my bottles and picked up a third bottle before I left the aid station for the last big climb of the day. Erik was still getting his stuff together and I remember telling him that I was going to walk for a stretch and that I would see him in a few minutes. That never happened.

I walked, then jogged up the 4wd road, anxious to get to the real climbing. A little over a half mile after leaving the aid station I kept following the 4wd road on a slight right hand bend when I was supposed to bear left onto the singletrack next to the creek. I glanced down at my watch knowing that I should I have been approaching the switchbacks leading to the top of Wallsburg Ridge but nothing looked familiar. I started examining the trail for evidence of the runners in front of me and found none. I turned around and looked down the canyon I just climbed up. Feelings of anger and dread washed over me, I had no one to blame but myself. I looked at the altimeter on my watch before starting to backtrack and it read 8000'. I knew the top of Wallsburg ridge was a little of 8000' but I had no idea which direction I would have to go to find it.

Turns out I wasn't that far from where I was supposed to be.

I ran back down the canyon about 1.5 miles and 700' vertical before I found the trail I was supposed to be on. Anger drove my pace as I passed a few runners on the singletrack and washed out creek bottom. I caught up with Brian Beckstead who consoled me then gave me some encouragement to get after it. I had no idea how much time I had lost but I decided to re-focus on my original goal of 9:30.

My anger fueled pace eventually found reality as I pushed up Bozung hill and slowed down a bit. I heard some voices from behind as I made my way across the small snow patches before Windy Pass, but I refused to look behind until one of them called my name. To my surprise it was Greg and Peter, well ahead of their sub 10hr pace. I explained to them that I felt like I needed some extra training for Hardrock so I had done a few bonus miles. They told me they were still aiming for sub 10 to which I replied bulls**t, we're going under 9:30. I now had some renewed energy as we passed through Windy Pass a little after 1:00 pm, still enough time to get under 9:30 but we would have to press the pace. Jim Skaggs and crew had us in and out there in a jiffy, but Jim was curious where I had been, having been informed by Erik that I should be in front of him.

The descent off of Windy Pass was awful, but the MRC express was like a runaway train as we ran every step to aid station 10. I think it's fair to say that I pressed Greg and Peter on the descent but once I hit the road I was hitting a low patch. Now it was their turn to press me all the way to the finish where we crossed together in 9:27, good for 10th place. Going off course sucks, but finishing up a tough day with my friends definitely made up for it. Erik ended up taking 4th in front of Ryan in 8:43 and 8:51 respectively. Shilling pressed the 2nd half of the course to overtake Dave Holt and close to within 2 minutes and change of Scott Jaime. Rich came through in a little over 11 hours to put the icing on the MRC cake.
Thanks to RD John Bozung and all the volunteers that make Squaw Peak such a great event. Full results posted here .

In the end losing 30 minutes was a pretty bitter pill to swallow, but that's part of ultrarunning. In the grand scheme of things my fitness level made me feel a little more confident heading into Hardrock , currently #15 on the wait list...