Friday, November 26, 2010

The War is Over

...On my foot.
I was originally going to title this post "Mission Accomplished" but then it occurred to me readers might think I was unsuccessful in my endeavor...

Consider this a Public Service Announcement.  If I had known what was happening to my foot very early on, when I first noticed it, I could have taken care of it within a week.  Instead I fought this thing day in and day out for roughly 9 months.

I am referring to the Plantar Wart that took up residence on the ball of my left foot last February.  When I first noticed it I thought it was a callous.  It wasn't at all painful and just felt like a small, hard piece of skin.  A blister had been in the same spot just a month or two prior, so that just helped me rationalize the idea of a callous.  The ironic thing is that it was more than likely the blister that allowed the papilloma virus to enter my foot.
Young Plantar Warts
If you see something on your foot that resembles the picture above don't wait around to see what happens.  The easiest clue to figuring out if it is a Plantar Wart is if the fingerprint is altered in any way around it.  I would suggest hitting it right away with Compound W and duct tape.  For those that don't know, Plantar Warts are very similar to normal warts except that they grown inward because of the constant pressure on the foot.  Leave them alone and they can grow an awful long way.

By the time I got around to doing something about mine it was causing me pain after I would get done running.  I could flex my toes and feel it immediately.  Our resident Dr. froze it a few times and I continued with the freezing kit at home.  Eventually when it looked like it was going to surrender I started digging at it with an x-acto type blade.  I was able to dig in several millimeters with no pain and no bleeding.  Then I would fill the hole with Compound W and cover it with duct tape.  I did this everyday for 3 months straight.  At this point when I would run it felt like I had a hot coal on the ball of my foot.  The pain would come and go so it was difficult to figure out if I was beating it or not but if I let up on the assault it would gather itself up and keep burrowing into my foot.

PW (that was it's public name, privately I referred to it as something else) finally surrendered about two weeks ago and I shaved off the last of it.  I wanted to post something sooner but I feared it might not be gone all the way and I would just be pissing it off by writing about it.  
A few closing notes and words of advice, I most likely picked this bugger up when I was going to the gym.  I now shower with flip flops on.  I know a few people that have gotten rid of these in a matter of  a week or so because they attacked it right away.  Compound W and duct tape will kill the skin and cells around the area, don't be alarmed, just shave away the dead stuff and re-apply, it really works.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Grand Canyon R2R2R - Part Deux

This past spring I had the opportunity to run the Grand Canyon rim-to-rim-to rim with a group from the Larchmont Track Club. It was a magical and memorable run, and one that I knew I wanted to do again. Read original post. So when Jared Campbell called several months ago asking if I was interested in joining him for a fall R2R2R run there was only one answer, “consider me in!”

A fairly large group had expressed interest in the November 13th run. But, work, family and health considerations in the end left just four eager participants; myself, Jared, Karl Jarvis and Matt Zinkgraf. We met late the night before in the campground on the North Rim, Jared and I driving down from Salt Lake, Karl and Matt driving up from Flagstaff. The temperature as we crawled into our sleeping bags and tents was a chilly 19 degrees.

By our start time of 7:00 am the day had warmed to a balmy 30 degrees. One of the challenges in running the Grand Canyon is anticipating and managing the temperature change. While we all wanted to wear our tights, we knew that in several hours at the bottom of the canyon the temperature would be in the 60s.

The descent from the North Rim is spectacular. Starting in a ponderosa forest, one quickly drops into the top of Bright Angel Canyon with spectacular vistas of the South Rim. We made quick time down to Roaring Springs where we topped our water and stashed some clothes for the climb back to the North Rim. My favorite part of the rim-to-rim run is the section of trail between Roaring Springs and Phantom Ranch. For the most part you run along Bright Angle Creek, often on trail carved into the canyon wall. From Phantom Ranch we decided to go up to the South Rim via the South Kaibab Trail.

We made good time up the South Kaibab Trail with Jared in the lead, running all but the steepest sections. At Skull Point I opted to turn-around and begin the journey back to the North Rim. Karl and Jared proceeded up to the South Rim.

Once back in the bottom of the canyon I celebrated what might be the last 60+-degree day of the year for me by running with my shirt off. The sun felt good on my back!

The run from the bottom of the canyon back to the North Rim was like a time-lapse onset of winter. For about an hour I ran shirtless. Then, another hour with a short-sleeve shirt. Back at Roaring Springs I needed my long sleeved shirt. And by the time I reached the Rim I needed my gloves again.

As I waited for Jared and Karl in the car, wrapped in sleeping bag to stay warm, I knew that this was likely the last long run I would have on dirt until spring. ☹

Photos Courtesy of Jared Campbell

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Watch Meltzer on NBC

It's not often that an Ultrarunner gets national TV coverage but this Sunday, November 14th, NBC will be airing coverage of Karl Meltzer running the Red Bull Human Express, running 2000+ miles on the Pony Express trail.  3pm ET/1pm MST, here along the Wasatch Front it will be on channel 5. More details at

The show will also consist of the Red Bull Rampage in Southern Utah (xtreme Mtn Biking), Rallycross (5 drivers at a time in rally cars on a dirt circuit) and the Teton Gravity Research skiers doing cool stuff in Alaska.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Antelope Island 100k Race Report

All Photos by Greg Norrander. Go to his blog for more awesome pictures of the race.

When I first heard there was going to be a 100k in November out on the island, I couldn't get it out of mind. I knew I probably shouldn't sign up for it. Who jumps from the 50k distance to a 100k without doing anything in between? My thoughts went back to this past spring when I ran my first 50k on the island and then ran my first marathon a month later. It worked out ok then, so I figured why not, I'll do it. The best way to get my feet wet is to just jump right in, so I signed up.

My training went very well leading into the race despite it maybe being a bit unorthodox for ultra running with my longest run only being 22 miles. The last time I ran more than 22 miles was the Logan Peak race at 28ish miles and that was back in June. But I felt fit and my mind and body felt right to run a good race.

The morning of the race I almost didn't make the starting line. I set my alarm the night before the race and went to bed. Somehow I set my time back an hour. So, when my clock said 3:30, it was actually 4:30 and I was still in bed. My wife happened to wake up and realized I was wasn't gone and woke me up. I jumped out of bed so fast and got dressed and grabbed all my gear, my breakfast shake and was out the door in less than 5 minutes.

I drove the 45 minutes to the island from Salt Lake City a bit stressed I wouldn't make packet pick up. I made it to the packet pickup just in time and had a few minutes to get everything in order before the race was started.

With it being dark, I couldn't really make too many folks out. The race plan was to not lead the first couple miles to get a feel for what paces everyone was willing to run and then adjust from there. I had an idea of what I wanted to do being somewhat familiar to the course, so with my plan in place all I had to do is start running.

Jim Skaggs (race director) sent us off and immediately an older gentleman, who I learned was named Davy Crocket, took the early lead going into the first climb. I settled in my own pace with Brian Beckstead.

As we crested up and over the first big hill, I found myself in the lead. My body felt good after the first couple miles and fell into its own rhythm rather quickly. I led the way up to the first aid station with Tim Long in tow who was running without a headlamp, he forgot it. After the first aid station a few of the other runners caught back up to me and we ran as a group down towards the Death Valley aid station. Davy retook the lead on the downhill section at this point and he was the first to arrive to the aid station.

I re-filled my bottle with water and followed Davy onto the beach . Getting to the beach we had to run through some fine sand that my shoes kicked up all over my legs and got down into my shoes a bit. I didn't wear my Dirty Girls and for a moment I regretted it. But there wasn't anything I could do about it now, so I just trudged onto the beach. I quickly caught back up with Davy and just followed him for a bit. It was rather hard to tell where to go. The beach had flags marking the course, but was hard to make out the next one due to it being dark still. At this point several other runners caught up to us and we ran as a group until we came up to a rocky part of the beach and we lost track of where the trail was supposed to go. We took a left when we should have taken a right and ran ourselves right into a bog with stinky, cold, wet mud. So much for dry feet.

We eventually made our way out of there and just ran along the beach the best we could until we found another flag and continued along the course.

The sun was starting to rise as we made our way off the beach and it was gorgeous. The terrain looked surreal and the colors of the sunrise made it feel like I was on mars or some other unearthly place. It may have been the best sunrise I have ever seen.

As we made our way south along a road, I looked ahead and saw the 1000 foot climb we had to do next. I was in the lead again and decided to push it a bit up the hill to find out who the players for the race were. I quickly was alone and would be for the next 50 miles.

I didn't push it too hard up the hill but ran where I could and that created the distance I was looking for. By the time I arrived to the North Sentry aid station I had a decent lead. I quickly filled my water bottle and continued down the other side of the island. As I ran south just before we headed east and down the hill, some antelope ran out in front of me for a bit along the trail then darted of into the distance.

I held back on this downhill section. I often times do this to recover and conserve energy instead of expending too much trying to run fast. I cruised along at 7:30 min pace until I reached the bottom. I half expected the others to catch me on this downhill section. At the bottom I looked back and could see them coming, but Tim and Brian were a fair distance behind me.

The next section of the course was really flat, 12 miles all the way back to the finish/start line. I put my body on autopilot and cruised at or around 8:00 mile pace. I could feel the other guys behind me so I kept the pressure on. As I ran along, I did worry a biy about the pace being too fast and that I would fade on the second lap but I decided just to roll with it. I really did feel comfortable and I just had to trust my body and my training.

Almost back to the start/finish line, I had climb a small hill. At the top there was a

big buffalo standing near a watering trough just to the right of the road. On the left hand side there was a fence. I stopped and really didn't see a good way around it, so I just walked slowly along the fence trying not to make eye contact with it. As I neared it, it quickly turned and fronted me and gave me a snort. I about crapped myself. But it held its ground as I continued to walk by. When I felt I was clear I hauled butt down to the start line area full of adrenaline.

I quickly restocked my supplies from my drop bag. As I was leaving the aid station, Brian was coming in with Tim not too far behind him. I told Brian good luck and started my second loop. I was now in un-charted territory for me. After 32 miles, every step will take me further than I have ran before. So I had no idea how my body was going to react. At this point, all I could do is just keep putting one foot in front of the other and eat and drink as much as I could.

As I made my way to the next aid station it became clear I was starting to distance myself from the rest of the field. I didn't try to pick it up at this point, I just kept running the same rhythm. I was starting to get some aches in the calves but nothing serious. My lungs felt great and my breathing was relaxed. As I ran down to the Death Valley aid station I realized for the first time that I had a good chance to win the race, if my body didn't have a meltdown of some sort. My mind felt fresh, excited, motivated and strong.

I made it to the Death Valley aid station (40 miles) at 12:02 pm, 6 hours into the race. I looked up and could see Brian making his way down the switch backs so I re-filled my bottle and headed out to the beach once more. This time being able to see the flags and not lose my way.

At this point I might have gotten just a bit excited. When I got down to the beach I pushed the pace a bit harder than I should have. The sand was very draining on the quads. Near the end of the beach section I had to stop for about 30 seconds to get them to calm down, they were just about to cramp up on me. I thought I just made a big mistake. I was also running out of water and had a few miles to go to the next aid station with a 1000 foot climb in the way. The next couple of miles would make or break my race and I knew it and there might be

nothing I could do about it.

So I just kept on running and ignored my screaming quads. Out of the blue there was Greg Norrander taking photos! Funny how he pops up like that. After being alone on the trail for so long, he actually energized me and put a bounce back into my step as I
headed towards the climb.

One thing I love about a two lap course, is that I know exactly what's coming and it makes it easier to gage my efforts. I took a deep breath and started to work my up the hill. I knew I had to be careful with the climb. I decided it would be ok if I lost a little bit of ground here because I knew I could make up for it on the other side once it flattened out again. I just had to make it over in one piece. So I walked more of the hill than I normally would have liked. It ended up being a great decision because this was also the warmest part of the day and I could feel my heart rate getting higher as I climbed. If I would have pushed it too hard, it may have been the end of me.

I ate a gel, popped two SCaps and drank the last of my water about half way up the hill, my quads were burning now and they continued to twinge, not quite going into a full cramp as I climbed. I was really wishing there would have been a water station at the bottom of the hill.

As I neared the top, I took a look back and couldn't see anyone behind me. It was my race to win or lose.

I pushed my way up the last bit of hill and saw the Sentry Aid Station. It couldn't have come at a better time for me. I drank a couple cups of coke, downed a banana, 3 Scaps and a couple cups of water. That was my favorite aid station in the race. The view up there was awesome.

I didn't stay long knowing I may have lost a bit of ground on the climb. I ran down the hill, letting it go a bit more this time around and pushed 7 min miles down to mile 50. At the bottom of the hill I crossed 50 miles in 7:38. I was hoping to be a bit quicker, but I was pleased with my efforts so far. I knew I had a shot at breaking 9:30.

With 9 miles to go my parents and couple siblings found me on the trails and started to cheer and follow me along the last part of the race. It

was a big help. I got to the Nine Mile aid station and drank as much coke as I could. I couldn't muster the thought of another gel or anything else other than coke for the rest of the race. I should have forced myself to eat more gels though. Coke is good, but it isn't nearly as good as a gel and I would pay for it a bit later.

I ran to the next aid station where I was greeted with cheers from family members once again. Only 10k to go and I knew it was going miserable. I stayed a bit longer at this aid station drinking coke and downing a couple more Scaps. Chatted with everyone a bit and realized I started feeling worse the longer I stayed there. So I knew I had to get moving. I had been able to run out of every aid station, until now. I had to walk about 30 yards to get the legs working again.

I just kept moving along as quick as I could. I was still able to maintain the 8 min miles until the last few where I slowed down to 9 min miles. I had to stop and walk 3 times. Not keeping up with the gels the last 8 miles was really catching up to me now. I could tell my energy stores were all used up and I was close to running on empty.

I finally came to the last short, steep hill and cruised my way down the finish line. I was experiencing so many emotions as the finish line got closer, it was almost overwhelming. Satisfaction was the one that stood out the most, knowing all the work I had been doing was finally paying off. I bested my own expectations and ran an almost perfect race for me and happened to win the race at the same time.

I crossed the finish line in 9:28:37, 55 minutes in front of second place finisher Tim. I don't think things could have gone any better for me. It was the perfect course on a perfect day.