Thursday, August 25, 2016

UTMB Preparation

Flying in Cham

I've heard the statement many times, "there is nothing like UTMB." Until this week I just discounted that as more of the incessant rhetorical hype that causes people to avoid runners like me at parties and social events. But my experience in Chamonix the last 5 days is starting to validate this statement for me. The town is simply abuzz with running - runners themselves, families and friends, volunteers, sponsors and exhibitors, and even commerce has caught the fever with restaurants offering carbohydrate dense "UTMB specials" and every store having a "UTMB sale." In fact, too much running-themed everything with hoards of people in compression clothing, Buffs, and running packs has been a bit much for my liking. In an effort to avoid the UTMB chaos consuming Chamonix, I decided to enjoy the week with two activities where the look doesn't matter and I don't feel competitive - flying and drinking French wine (undertaken as separate and distinct activities).

Salomon Gear not Required for this Activity
The Good Life
Once a storm system passed on Sunday, the weather has been stellar for paragliding. Cool nights followed by warm cloudless days has created good thermal action resulting in four days of exceptional flying weather. The perfect flying weather has been tough on the TDS and OCC runners with daytime highs in the mid 80's resulting in many wilted runners and considerable carnage. The hot weather will play a big factor in the UTMB with a high probability that many of us will be destroyed not only by the vertical - but by the heat!

Pack that Kite and Do it Again!
While I arrived in Chamonix with confidence that I would have a good race given that I have been able to train in the mountains most weekends for the past three months, have twice covered the entire UTMB track, and have been consistently averaging ~100 miles per week. However, I think the big miles and vert (at least for me) combined with old age (read slower recovery) have me overtrained and potentially starting the race tired and not at my best. I remain hopeful that the cause of this feeling is a sense of inferiority resulting from not owning any compression gear, my plan to run without sticks (which oddly people seem to correlate with low intelligence), and not having any Salomon running wear. I am thinking of buying a Buff in an effort to try and understand if my insecurities are truly justified or simply gear-related.

Getting Psyched Out Waiting in Line with all the 'Good' Runners
For those interested in following the race you can track runners at and/or follow the race at My bib is #158. Good luck to the other 2299 runners!

Sunday, August 14, 2016

Three is the Magic Number

Good things come in three.  And this could not have been more evident than over the past few weekends.  I'll show you what I mean with a few words, and plenty of pictures.

Week 1: Spent the week with the family in Maine, with daily hikes and visits to the beach in Acadia National Park

Hiking The Precipice Trail
Acadia National Park

More Precipice Trail

Holding back the tide at Seal Harbor
Acadia National Park

Week 2: Traveled to Star Valley, WY for El Vaquero Loco 50 K trail race, a must do race for anyone serious about running in spectacular, high mountain locations. Ty Draney puts on one of the best, low key, high fun, family friendly events around.
Brian Rawlings heading into the beauty of the Salt River Range

Corral Creek Lake
Found a few of these beauties while icing my legs post-race.

Week 3: With the family still out of town, I spent a couple days exploring the Uintas.  Some was old territory, much was new, and it was all loads of fun.

I started the trip a little late, around 11:00 am, with plans of summiting 5 of Utah's 13000 ft peaks.  Due to the late start, running out of water, and not liking the idea of traversing/descending Lovenia and East Lovenia in the dark, I decided that topping out on Tokewanna, Wasatch and Wapiti(Wasatch Benchmark) would make for a good day.
The view of Wapiti, Lovenia and East Lovenia (R-L)
from Tokewanna.

Topping out on Wasatch Peak.
East Lovenia and Lovenia frame Wapiti in the middle.

At Red Knob Pass, I could see the turquoise blue of Crater Lake a few miles in the distance and after discussing it's fishing possibilities with a local sheepherder, decided I'd head over there to spend the night.  The fishing was indeed awesome as I couldn't keep the Brook trout off my wooly bugger, and Crater Lake proved to be a twin of Corral Creek Lake, from the Vaquero 50k the weekend before.


Crater Lake

Brook Trout were in abundance in Crater Lake

The next morning I headed back over Red Knob Pass and made my way to Dead Horse Lake.  While running the Highline trail a few years ago, we traversed Dead Horse Lake in the early dawn and I remember thinking to myself that the fishing had to be lights out in a lake as beautiful as this.  Indeed, the fishing for Tiger trout was nonstop both with wooly buggers sub-surface, and on top with stimulator patterns.

Tiger Trout
Dead Horse Lake

The Mountain Bouquets were in abundance at 11000 ft.

I finally pulled myself away for the 10 mile hike down canyon back to my truck.  I stopped to fish West Fork Blacks Fork a number of times, and the fishing was non-stop for cutthroat in the upper reaches, and brook trout lower down.

Cutthroat were small, but plentiful.
West Fork Blacks Fork

Buck Pasture
Looking upstream on West Fork Blacks Fork.
All in all, a fabulous few weeks.  

3- Mind clearing weekends
3-13000 foot peaks
3-species of fish in 3 separate bodies of water. 

Indeed, Three is the Magic Number.
(you can listen here if you'd like)