Monday, May 30, 2011

Pocatello 50 Race Report - 4 in 1

The Pocatello 50. Three fabulous races (53 mile, 36 mile, 20 mile) on a course that has it all - snow, mud, bushwhack, streams and amazing scenery. A big thanks to Race Directors Jared and Ryan who did an amazing job, along with all the volunteers, to pull off a such a great event. Bravo!

Since most of the MRC ran Pocatello we decided to combine our respective reports into one post. So, while it may look like a super long race report it's really a bonus 4 in 1.

In summary:
50km: Jay Aldous
50 mile: Christian Johnson, Greg Norrander and Peter Lindgren

Jay's 50km Report:
Jay and Glenn on the start line.
My day was a bit of train wreck – but fun none-the-less. I wasn’t aware that the aid stations had been changed due to the snow. I went out fast with a single 20 oz bottle with plans to fill up at mile 9. From the start, I immediately pulled ahead of the other 50K runners. Right after the climb through the stream bed below Kinport, I caught Dakota Jones and passed him. By the aid station that was just over the top he had almost caught back up with me. Thinking there would be aid at mile 9 I ran through the aid station and opened it up hoping to not loose too much of my lead to the rest of the 50K runners who I knew were likely to be much faster downhill runners and would soon be reeling me in. When I got to the junction where I thought there would be aid at mile 9 and there was nothing, I knew I was in a pinch. My bottle was empty and I still had 6.5 miles until Mink Creek. I continued to push it figuring that slowing down wasn’t going to solve my problem. I was able to stay ahead of Dakota on the descent (that was the best part of my day – running as fast I could to stay in front of him) and was the first runner to arrive at Mink Creek. But, I was fried.... Coming out of Mink Creek I struggled on the climb. I drank heavily and refueled – but knew that it was going to be 30 minutes or so before the system felt good again. I dragged all the way to Scout camp with Dakota and 2 more 50 milers passing me. I didn’t bounce back as fast or as completely as I had hoped. I was super slow in the snow which was probably a function of my BAD ATTITUDE about snow more so than ability. Once I got out of the snow on the decent back to Mink Creek I started to feel better.
Jay heading of Mink Creek AS for the final 7 miles
During this descent Damian Stoy and Dominick Layfield passed me. While my legs felt good, I just didn’t have any gas to pursue them and just watched them slowly pull away. I was able to catch Dominick on the climb out of Mink Creek, but knew that once we crested and the descent started, it would be over – and it was with him quickly pulling away.So, a big lesson learned. Attend the pre-race meeting! And, there is a risk for cutting it close with hydration and fueling. Some good lessons learned!

Christian's 50 mile report: I had a few goals heading into this one, first I wanted to get a sub-10 hour time on this tough course and second I had to make sure I still felt good at the finish. Basically I was in need of a confidence booster ahead of Hardrock on July 8th and I got it. I ran much of the first 11 miles with Matt Hart until we hit the long downhill coming off the ridge, where he took off. I caught Jeremy Humphrey on this descent and rolled into City Creek feeling quite good at mile 17. On the climb out of City Creek I eased off the pace a bit, where Joelle Vaught passed me, but I was still able to run much of the trail until we hit the bushwhack/creek section. We were starting to catch 50km runners at this point and they were all really nice and encouraging as we dipped in and out of the snowy creek. Toward the top I caught sight of Matt and Joelle as I pushed just a bit to catch up to them. All three of us ran through the Kinport aid station together and as we started the descent I felt strong enough to take the lead. I really enjoyed the cruiser singletrack but after about 30 minutes I started to feel a little sluggish. I fully expected Matt and Joelle to pass me at this point but Matt was feeling a bit low as well. My wardrobe choice was a bit warm at this point so I started to plan out how I was going to switch into shorts and out of my Capro's. At the Mink Creek aid my lovely wife was there with supplies and shorts. I made the switch but I was passed by Matt and Joelle in the process. While I thought I was feeling a bit better, it soon became apparent that I was still struggling as I started up the long climb to Scout Mountain. The snow and mud became a little frustrating but I kept reminding myself that patience was the key, just keep it steady. Soon enough I heard a cowbell and saw Aaron Spurlock at the trail junction, he let me know it was only a mile down to the aid as I picked up the pace. The Scout Campground aid was a welcome sight with Roch Horton, Catherine and Karl Meltzer and David Hayes taking care of runners. I grabbed some coke, one of Karl's perogies and set out for the last 15 miles. The perogie took a little while to settle but when it did I felt fantastic. I rallied the descent back to Mink Creek but I was still caught by Jeremy as we hit the aid station for the final time.
Christian just before Mink Creek AS, mile 45
Betsy had me out of the aid station in no time at all with Jeremy right behind me and 7 miles to go. I remarked to him "let's finish this strong" and started running up the trail. I held a good solid pace to the left hand turn up Corral Creek and when I looked back I no longer saw him. At this point I thought I might be able to reel in Joelle or Matt but the only runners I caught were in the 50km. As the final descent started I focused on the sub-10 goal. I wasn't sure if it would be possible until I heard the traffic on the road at the bottom. Now I knew I would make it as I ran sub-8 min pace for the final 1.5 miles on pavement and crossed the line in 9:45, feeling like I could keep on going. With both my goals accomplished I couldn't have asked for more and I think the smile says it all.
Christian at the finish of the 50 mile
Peter's 50 mile report: When Christian called me Friday night to let me know that he had my race packet, and I hadn't yet left Salt Lake City, I knew was unprepared. Pre-race meeting?

We did enjoy dinner at home, which was less of a gamble than finding something in Po-Cat-a-Lo. We finally made it to Pocatello in a sideways rain. At 10 PM while my kids finished a swim in the hotel pool and I worked on a few clinic notes and called in lab orders for the following morning, I realized it was time to look at the course and aid stations. With the hotel pen and note paper I made a crude list of mileages, while nibbling on cheddar cheese popcorn left over from the Grand Canyon trip. (In the morning Christian gave me a nice laminated card of mileages and pace.)

In the end, it was liberating to have no drop bags, or a clue as to what was ahead. I just ran how I felt and tried to find my all-day pace. My lack of mileage was evident as my all-day pace was slow. You can't fake having not done the work. That said, I did well managing the day despite lack of preparation, and felt remarkably normal at the finish. I suspect that I would have been in a world of hurt had I tried to stay with Sandy White the last mile down the road. Always amazing to see someone with such speed at the end of a race. I guess that is what happens when you are racing the clock. Sandy nipped in under 11 hours.

Jay's pole carrying technique worked well.

Peter with a new pole carrying technique and Doritos. 11 chips (exactly what I could hold in both hands - go ahead and count them)- have 150 calories, 180 mg of sodium, and saved me from another sweet gel.
While I didn't see the previous course, the conditions from Greg's 2009 pictures looked much faster. Christian and Greg's times this year would have placed them 3rd and 4th overall in 2009. The strength of the field was astounding. A clear message that Jared and Ryan know how to put on a great race.

Greg's 50 mile report: I don't have much to add, my race was non eventful as usual. I too should have looked at the profile and map a little more closely.
Greg coming into City Creek AS
I passed a 3-4 people in the middle of the third leg then pushed really hard to make sure none of them came back at me. At the last aid station Ty Draney and I left at the same time, he took off running up hill and I chased him as hard as I could for 15 minutes staying 20ft behind him thinking he might blow up and bonk, all I managed to do was blow myself up! Before Ty left me behind for good I asked him how long the last loop was, he said 7 + miles, I finally pulled out the pace chart Christian had given me and realized Ty was correct I still had 5.5 miles and a stout 1,200 ft climb left, it was hard to get my head around that but I still managed to finish somewhat strong.
I really, really like this course, particularly the part on the second leg going up the small stream in the gully weaving in and out of the trees, you just can't find that type of route at your normal 50 mile trail race. The combination of fantastic mountains and wonderful people make this a very special race for me. Congratulations to everybody who towed the line in one of the three race distances. To link to the full results click here
Greg, relaxing at the finish.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Red Rock Relay Moab - Solo Run

(Race was 5-14-2011)

This race sort of came out of the blue for me. The word came my way that Matt Ward, the race director for Red Rock Relay Moab, would let anyone in the race for free if they did it solo. The only catch would be that I would need to provide my own crew since there would be no aid stations.

I put out my feelers and was able to get a crew together. Two of my brothers volunteered, Brian and Kevin Dickey and a co-worker of mine, Colin Anderson. I felt humbled that they offered so much so freely. Colin had crewed before, but Brian and Kevin were new to the ordeal. But I knew they would come through and had nothing but confidence in them.

Another one of my co-workers came up with a "team" name for me, "Bon Solo". A word play off the Hoka Bondi B's and Hon Solo. I had originally planned on running the race in the Bondi B's, but I was able to get a new Hoka shoe to try out for the race instead, called the Stinson aka The Combo XT's, a trail/road hybrid shoe. I brought my Bondi B's along for the ride just in case though, because I knew they worked for me.

I was slated to start the race with the slower teams at 6:00am. As usual, the early morning always come early. I got my breakfast shake and banana in me and felt ready to go. I felt fresh and energized. For the first time this season, I felt ready to race. I guess the only worry I had was the potential heat and how my legs would hold up too about 65 miles of roads.

I was the only solo racer in the field, it was kind of odd not really having anyone specific to compete against but myself. It was actually just what I needed, it was all on me, no excuses. I did want to beat as many teams as I could and starting as early as I was, I wanted to be the first "team" across the finish line. I knew the faster teams would be starting later in the day so they would have to really work to get me.

The gun went off and I was on my way. I had some company the first 5 miles or so of the course, after that I was pretty much on my own, leaving the slower teams behind. The scenery was quite amazing for the first 15 miles. The red rock cliffs were glowing along the Colorado River as the sun rose. My pace was decent. I wasn't really feeling great, but didn't feel terrible either.My crew met up with me about every 30 minutes or so, which was great. I started to see the benefits of a crew quickly (this was my first crewed race). My brothers were doing a great job. Colin was to meet up with us around mile 20 in his own car. His wife was with him so he let her sleep in a bit before he came along.

The first 15 miles of the course were pretty uneventful. Just found my rhythm and took care of my nutrition. At about mile 16 my hamstrings started to tighten up some. I ran a 50k 3 weeks prior and they were extremely tight after that race. I was getting worried they would do the same for this race, I had a long ways to go for this to start happening.

Around mile 20 I turned south into Castle Valley and started to head up towards the La Sal Mountains.

This valley consisted of basically long straight stretches of road that were gradually climbing. I was starting to realize I was feeling strong. Still staying a bit conservative, I held my effort. From mile 20-26 I climbed 2000 feet. During this time, oddly enough, the tightness in my hamstrings disappeared, the change in terrain was turning out to be a good thing. Legs began to feel nice and lose.

Around mile 26 my brother Brian joined me (running barefoot) just in time for the more serious climbs of the course. It was nice to get some constant company. I also started to dump water on me on a regular basis to keep my body core temperature down, as a precaution. We brought plenty of water to do this. The day was starting to warm, but as we started to get up in altitude, the temperatures didn't get that hot.

I eased my pace on the hills, jogging/walking my way up. As I started to climb higher, clouds started to roll in and it got rather comfortable up there, almost chilly. The race just started to clip by. For the first time of my short ultra running experiences, I felt in total control. But I also knew I had to be patient and just maintain what I was doing, staying hydrated and fueled.

I crossed first 50k in around 4:22, just a bit under halfway. I was surprised how easy it felt to get to this point that fast. I actually thought I might have gone out too fast, but my body felt strong and I didn't feel like I had over extended my efforts at all. But the next 15 miles would be over 7000 feet in elevation and elevation tends to change how I feel. The views were spectacular though and worth the work getting up there. It's pretty unique seeing the alpine peaks cover in snow and the orange sandstone terrain down below.

Around 40 my other brother Kevin, started to run with me, Brian did his part and did it well. At about 41, the last big climb was before me. It was now time to recover as I ran downhill for a bit starting to feel the altitude somewhat, I haven't been over 5000 feet since March, but all in all it wasn't too hard on me. I took my time on the last climb, knowing I would have plenty of downhill to make up time.

After we crested the hill I stopped a bit at my vehicle to re-supply. One of the other team vehicles was kind of playing hop scotch with us for the last little bit, which meant they were catching up. They had stopped by our vehicle and I looked over and recognized one of the runners. Mike Strauss, we ran against each other in High School and College. We chatted a bit before I moved on. Funny who your run into while running :)

A couple miles later he comes flying by me. Damn, one of the relay teams caught me. It took about 45 miles for that to happen. I felt good about that. There was no way I could keep up though and all I could was watch Mike tear down the mountain. At this point I was able to relax more get my legs stretched out and moving in a good rythym , I was able to get down to 7 min mile pace. I did stop and walk on some of the steeper down hills sections, more as a precaution, they would be murder on the quads and probably not worth the effort.

I continued down the mountain and could feel the extra oxygen becoming available. At mile 49, something happened that I won't ever forget. I felt unbelievable. I hit mile 50 with a 6:37 mile (ran 7 hours, 14 minutes or so through 50 miles), followed by a 6:28, 6:20, and finally a 6:16... wtf. They were downhill miles, but it wasn't that steep. How was I moving my legs like this after 50 miles? It sure felt great though. I decided at this point I better be careful, it was starting to get warm so I backed off a bit. I could see the team that passed me earlier quickly coming back to me. At around mile 56 I caught the team that had passed me and left them behind. I guess their runner after Mike wasn't as fast. I wouldn't see any other teams the rest of the way.

The course then started to head back into Moab. I started dumping water on me every 15 minutes as the temperatures started to rise, but I never really did feel overwhelmed by it. I just continued my way into town, knowing I was running a great race for me. At mile 60, Kevin tore off and Brian jumped in for the last few miles.

I came through 100k in 8:44! I just ran my second 50k in the same time as my first. That was a best case scenario time for me, things were just going great. I started smiling inside from ear to ear inside. The end was near.

Before I knew it, the finish was in sight and I crossed it 9:03.23 for 64.60 miles and 6000 feet of climbing, I was the first "team" to cross the line for the day and I ended up taking 6th place overall out of 150 relay teams.

Thanks to my crew Colin (and his wife), Brian and Kevin. I wouldn't have been able to run like I did without you guys there, you hit it out of the park for me. You can crew for me any time. (we forgot to get a group shot)

Thanks to Matt Ward, the Red Rock Relay Race Director, for letting me run this event. It's a pretty sweet course, but also very challenging.

Also thanks to Hoka for letting me use their new shoe, it just might be their best one yet.

Friday, May 20, 2011

The Big Ditch R2R2R

“Just go ahead, I know my way back.”

After 40 ounces of lemonade at the Phantom Ranch, I stopped having chills despite 90 degree temperature. With 2 liters of water in my pack, gels, dried mango, I figured that I was finally correcting my fluid and energy deficit and working on correcting my electrolyte imbalance. However, every step that I tried to run, I felt nauseous and my muscles started to cramp. Greg and Jay looked great, as they pulled away, I didn’t want to spoil or prolong their run back to the North Rim.

From the moment we started the day I was off by an hour and that was the way the day would finish. Arizona is an hour behind, Utah. I guess they don’t believe in daylight savings. The Jacob Lake Lodge opens at 6:30. The order of business was coffee then run. At 6:20 Greg, Jay, and Adrienne were leisurely sleeping. The day was going to be hot, we needed to move, I nudged Greg because we were approaching 6:20. I was getting nervous. It was 5:20 in Arizona.

By the time we had coffee, the Best Friends Animal Sanctuary contingent had arrived and made the drive with us to the North Rim for their run across the Grand Canyon.

Having never been to the Grand Canyon, I had expectations of pulling up to a spectacular vista. The North Rim takes a while to reveal itself, starting in a forest of ponderosa pines with not so much of a view. Slowly the ponderosas gave way to a few aspens, and before long it was definite red dirt and desert foliage with a long gorge leading to the Colorado River. Greg and Jay made a quick pace down the trail. I stopped to take a few photos and ran fast to catch up. My stomach wasn’t quite right from a viral gastroenteritis earlier in the week (perks of being a pediatrician), but my legs felt good. I thought that as long as I could keep hydrated things would be fine. The first 7 miles of descent flew by in a about an hour. The next 7 miles to Phantom Ranch the temperature started to rise. We kept a steady pace running even the little risers. Greg and I were entertained by Jay’s stories of travels to Munich, Washington D.C., and his interests in long distance biking. I wasn’t much of a travel companion, already feeling the effects of the heat, I was only able to ask an occasional feeble question.

At Phantom Ranch (mile 14) we stashed some gels, filled our hydration packs and set out for the other side of the big ditch. As we crossed the Colorado, it was clear that Jay had fresh legs and was ready for the long ascent. The South Kaibab trail is an exposed, spectacular and hot 5,000 foot climb. We all pulled out our BD ultra poles and started the climb. I watched in awe as Jay lithely ran the initial pitch. I suspect that Greg could have gone with him, but was trying to save himself for the way back. It wasn’t long before Jay had a 5 minute gap, but as we approached the first mesa, Jay was waiting with his shirt off, with good news that we were ahead of “Krissy’s pace”. We climbed the second section together, and picked up a day hiker who seemed intent on staying with us. The winds were intense enough to blow a few hikers hats off and make a few huddle behind rocks. There were a number of folks that had full burqa’esque face gear to beat the wind and dust. While the winds made it feel more comfortable, the water loss accelerated. We continued to pass people on our ascent, but the day hiker drank from a milk jug of water and pulled away even from Greg and Jay. Clearly he had not been out in the sun for so long. I arrived at the South Rim in 4 hours and 24 minutes a few minutes after Greg and Jay. I filled my pack with 2 liters of water, and we made our way back down the South Kaibab trail. Jay invited me to lead the way in my new Hoka Bondi B’s. Despite exceptional trails, encouragement of hikers telling us that we were “crazy”, new shoes and the knowledge that I had an opportunity to run downhill for 6+ miles, I could not get much going. The Nuun no longer tasted good. I was sore tired and worried that I bit off more than I could chew. I once again pulled out my poles which proved to help counter the downhill work on the quads, and helped hopping over all the bars on the trail. The corners were a little easier to turn with the aid of a pole. In the tunnel leading to the bridge across the Colorado river, I slowed down and enjoyed the short time out of the sun. My pack was empty, and I needed water. Greg and Jay headed to retrieve our stashed goodies. By the time we got to Phantom Ranch, I was cooked.

The cantina was a welcome stop, with tables of people drinking Tecate, lemonade, ice tea, playing poker, talking, resting. Greg, Jay and I sat outside and drank our iced “lemmy”. I started to feel better, and figured another “lemmy” might replenish the tank. The dollar refill seemed like a bargain, but I should have had two more.

As we left the Phantom Ranch, Greg and Jay effortlessly pulled away. Over the next 7 miles to the Cottonwood Campground, I tried to run. I had a good internal laugh over the “Central Governor Theory”. I was experiencing the peripheral governor theory... run and cramp, or puke. My brain was happy to tell my body what to do. The body was in full revolt and in full control. I walked. By the Cottonwood Campground I must have been a fine bit of entertainment for the people taking a break in the shade. I sat by the water spigot, 15 meters from a bench and picnic table, both with sensible people sitting out of the sun. I sat drinking water, eating dried mango, and gels for what seemed like an eternity or at least long enough that one of my observers came over and asked politely to wet her towel, but reassured me that I need not move. When the crows started to settle a tree above me, it was time to move. Not far down the trail, I had one of those moments only the seasoned runner can appreciate. My stomach stopped protesting, and went into full revolt. The water, mango and gels were now on the side of trail. Almost immediately I started to feel better. The water was now going in and I was again eating.

My gut and mind were now clear. There was shade, the temperature seemed to drop, I was able to start to fuel and hydrate again. Now all I could think about was Adrienne, Jay and Greg waiting at the car for my sorry soul to climb out of the big ditch. They were probably hungry and ready to go. The wind was now at my back and I started to look at my watch for the elevation change. While I appreciated the scenery as I climbed, I still didn’t have the energy to pull out the camera.

When I got to the car, despite the dropping temperatures I was warmly met by Jay, Adrienne, and Greg. We traveled 42 miles, 10,666 feet of ascent. Greg and Jay were almost an hour faster over the last 14 miles.

Thanks to Jay for planning yet another great adventure.

Thanks to Greg for sharing his photos.

Friday, May 13, 2011

Trail Conditions 2011

UPDATE: Thanks for all the input on trail conditions this last weekend! I've started putting the day an update has been made to a particular area on the trail conditions page. That should be a little easier to look at the most up to date information.

I've been holding off on writing this post as I was afraid I might jinx the warm weather spell we've had this week along the Wasatch Front. But with that in mind I wanted to remind everyone living here in northern Utah we have a little system in place for tracking trail conditions in the high country. Simply click on the area you are interested in on the trail conditions page and you will find current conditions, as reported by fellow trail runners.

Of course this only works if YOU log what you see on the trail conditions form. Just fill in the blanks and it will appear on the appropriate trail conditions page and you will have karma on your side, at least for your next run. It only takes a minute to let everyone know that snow is still packed in on the way to Mt Aire or that Black Mountain is good to go. I will update tomorrow with my findings from the higher elevations and I hope I find similar findings as we all search out somewhere new to run.

Thank you,
Desperately seeking the high country...

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Fun Run Rescheduled

I regret to inform you all that the Grandeur fun Run has been cancelled this weekend, and will be held next Saturday, the 21st. Same time, same place.

I was just enlightened to the plans of Salt Lake County, the Open Space Trust Fund and Millcreek Township to hold a Purge the Spurge event to help eliminate the noxious weed Myrtle Spurge from the Grandeur Open Space. It's being held May 14th at the Grandeur Trail Head from 9 to noon. After talking to the director of the event, I felt that the best plan would be to postpone our little run, to give them the best possible outcome, and to avoid any possible negative run-ins with the county-it wouldn't look good if all their volunteers put off their weed pulling to indulge in some pancakes :)
Upwards of 100 volunteers, including Mayor Peter Corroon, will be there with media coverage to publicize the event. I would suggest that as many of you as can make it, show up to help clean up the Grandeur space that we all love.

I'm sorry for the last minute change of plans. I know that many of you are getting ready for Pocatello 50, running the Ogden Marathon, participating in the Sand Hollow Triathalon, and many other events. Hopefully we'll still get a good turnout, and ensure that the Grandeur Fun Run is around for many years to come.

Please pass the word along to anyone you know who was planning on it.



Saturday, May 7, 2011

7 Days and Counting

The much anticipated Grandeur Fun Fun is just a week away, Sat May 14 at 7:00 am, and looks to be as fun as ever. For snow conditions, check out the picture at the top of the blog, and the two below. They were taken this morning. Just after the top photo was taken a shoe was lost and the trail was marked with shin blood thanks to some great post holing. Fun!!!

The run is pretty much the same as always. Check out the link to the right or click here for all the details. The only change this year is the opportunity to use the run for a little fundraising. Nothing too drastic or demanding. Just a great opportunity to help brighten a young child's Christmas.

Come on out for a great group run and a little breakfast to replenish those depleted glycogen stores.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Salt Flats 100 Race Report

“No!” was the emphatic response from Christian when I asked, “Should I run the inaugural Salt Flats 100?” Peter just shook his head in a way that said he agreed with Christian. Greg remained neutral with the statement, “It would be an interesting place to take pictures.”

Christian caught that I was taken aback by the certainty of his answer and followed-up with a “Why?” I explained that my rational brain agreed with him and knew running the Salt Flats 100 was a bad idea. It recognized that it is too early in the year for me to run a 100 miler since I don’t have the base miles in yet. It reminded me that I’m feeling healthy and asked why would I want to take a chance on getting hurt. And, with a number of races coming up at 2-week intervals, it asserted that I would not have time to recover and would be racing with heavy legs – something it advised me I did not want!

However, my emotional brain which “wears the pants” in my head so to speak, had me convinced me that, a) a long run would be good for me, b) a 100 mile PR could a possibility, and c) it would be just f’n cool to run out on the Salt Flats (my rational brain did argue that the Salt Flats would still be there next year and that there was no urgency to run this year, but what does that brain know??).

Given the title of this post you know that my emotional brain prevailed.

“I’m not worthy” was all I could think as I stood at the starting line with Davy Crockett, Ben Benjamin and Heidi Bennett, who between them have more one-hundred milers under their collective belts than I have years. This was a run of the veterans and I felt honored to be in their presence.

The first 11 miles of the course follows a dike through the salt flats. Completely flat. Completely straight. And, completely void of vegetation. Surreal would be an understatement! Perfect terrain to get started on my “day dream list,” topics that I knew would allow me to withdraw into my head for many hours (and hopefully many miles)

The course then circumnavigates Floating Island, which truly appears to be floating in the Salt Flats when viewed from a distance. From Floating Island the course traverses over to Silver Island. The first 30 miles of the course are mostly flat on graded gravel roads.

My goal for the day was to try and set a 100 PR and hopefully go sub 16. At aid station #2 (21 miles) I was ahead of my splits and feeling optimistic I could have a strong run. Then, as the road curved around the north side of Silver Island I hit a strong wind blowing over Donner/Reed pass. For the next 8 miles I pushed into a relentless 20 mph + wind. By the time I reached Aid #3 (30 miles) I was back on my splits. I was discouraged as it was too early in the day to be loosing time. I felt worked from pushing into the wind. Leaning into the wind with each stride taking just a bit more effort had caused my hamstrings to become super tight. And, with the wind and intermittent sideward blowing snow I was unable to stay warm. I had lost motor control in my arms and was having a hard time pulling my bottles in and out of my hip pack. Maybe Christian was right. This was a bad idea!

From Aid #3 the course turned north onto Crater Island for a 16 mile out and back. I was stoked in that there were two good climbs and descents that allowed me to stretch my hamstrings and work my legs differently. The mountains blocked the wind and I was feeling good again.

I came into Aid #5 (46 miles) 15 minutes ahead of my splits. Could I really have picked it up that much? Was I feeling that much better? Perhaps my splits were off. None-the-less, my head was back in the race. To add extra spirit to my soul, my parents were waiting for me at Aid #5 to wish me well. How thoughtful of them to drive out from Salt Lake for a brief 1 minute encounter. They have always been highly supportive of my running from that very first day when I was 17, after reading in Outside Magazine about the Western States 100 when I announced to them that there was this 100-mile trail run in California across the Sierras that I wanted to do. I can remember the incredulous looks on their faces when I explained that if I finished in less than 24 hours I would get a belt buckle. I’m sure at the time, that odd proclamation made no sense to them, but from that moment on they have always been there to support me in my running and cycling endeavors.

After Aid #5, RD Vince Romney drove by to let me know that the turn-around on the out and back had been misplaced by about a mile. Damn! No wonder my split had been so good. Vince said that he would come up with multiplier to add to the times that would account for the shortage.

From Aid #5 the course climbs several thousand feet through a canyon that cuts across Silver Island. The climb felt good, though I could feel the wind at my back and knew that once I connected to the main road and began the second loop around the north end of Silver Island that I would again be pushing into the wind. Such a shame to waste a tailwind on a climb I thought to myself as I stressed about not knowing what time I would need to break 16 hours. After doing some mental math, I convinced myself that I should be safe if I could finish in less than 15:40.

The second time around the north side of Silver Island I felt better. I suspect it was nothing more than I knew what to expect and I appropriately managed my expectations. After Aid #7 (69 miles) I knew that I would soon be seeing Erik and Christian. I had been running alone since the start and was looking forward to the company. Plus, I knew that through a combination of them encouraging me, and me not wanting to disappoint them – I would be able to finish the last 25 miles with strength and dignity.

At Aid #8 (80 miles) the course crosses over Silver Island from the west to the east and then back to the west. On the last climb over the island I could tell I was running out of gas. Erik could sense me fading and set the perfect pace to pull me up the hill and back down to Aid #9 (91 miles) where Christian was waiting. In typical Christian style, Christian had calculated EXACTLY what we needed to do the last 9 miles in to finish in less than 15:40. “Beam me to the finish, Christian” I thought as we clipped along.

I crossed the finish line in 15:36 hoping that it was good enough to claim a sub 16 100-mile time. Regardless, I felt good and knew I had run a good race for me. I was content.

Top finishers were (times are adjusted to factor in the 2 mile shortage)

Jay Aldous 15:57
Davy Crockett 22:01
Heidi Bennett 25:50

A big thanks to race director Vince Romney and family who went to tremendous lengths to pull of an amazing first year event that included some surprises including nasty weather, sabotaged flagging, and flat tires. Thank you Vince. My crystal ball says this is going to be a great annual race.

And Christian, Peter and Greg, something tells me I’ll be pacing you at some point as you shoot for a 100-mile PR out on the Salt Flats!