2013 H.U.R.T. 100

2013 H.U.R.T. 100

Friday, December 2, 2011

My true test awaits...

Six weeks til the H.U.R.T. 100...

When i first got into ultra running (a couple of years ago), there were three races in particular that caught my attention and i've kept them at the top of my list ever since.  They happen to be arguably three of the toughest ultras you can find on the planet. The H.U.R.T. 100 in Hawaii, the hardrock 100 and the badwater 135.  They are all about as opposite as it gets in terms of terrain.  Hurt is in the rain forest of hawaii and features about 25,000 ft of climb.  How much climbing is that? Imagine running from sea level to the top of mt. Everest and back down in a single run.  I think the descents are what will be tough on loops 4 and 5 though. the climbing alone is enough to make it tough, but thats not the real challenge at this race.  What really makes this race hard is the terrain or "trail" if you can call it that.  Its so littered with roots, and mud, and rocks, and more roots.  Also, with it being in the rain forest there's a pretty good chance of rain and everything is muddy and slick.

a photo i found from the H.U.R.T. 100 course

The course is five 20 mile loops consisting of out n' back spurs.  Its a very odd layout for a course being that the whole race is basically on the same mountain.  There are three aid stations and they are located in the valleys and they all meet at the top of the mountain.  so you pretty much summit the same mountain a total of 15 time during the race from different directions.

Salomon Speedcross 3
I was advised to bring some very aggressively treaded shoes with as much grip as possible.  I've always worn Salomon so i picked up a pair of the Speedcross 3's.  They are made for mud and snow and have about as much grip as you can find.

Another pic from the H.U.R.T. 100 course

The thing that drew me to these races is the challenge.  Once i discovered ultras I knew i wanted that challenge and to be faced with that decision to either quit or search deep within and find some sort of motivation you didn't know you had and somehow finish it.  Hurt has put many runners in that situation and for the most part won.  Hurt has one of the lowest finishing rates of any ultra out there (not counting the barkley type that aren't designed to be finished).  over the 11 year span it averages around 25% finish rate.  It offers a 100k option, but here's the problem with that.  Im going out there to finish a 100 miler, and mr. crownover is going out there also to pace the final 40.  Now what a waste it would be for him to travel the middle of the pacific to show up ready to run only to find me quitting.  Chances are, there will come a point during the race that I feel worse then I ever have.  I'm going to have to really dig deep for this one.  This will be the first race where I will see the sun rise twice on the same run and sleep deprevation will be a huge factor.  Who doesn't love a Hawaiian sunrise though?

When i got picked to run, i contemplated doing cactus rose in October in fear that it would mess up training for hurt.  I had been focused on cactus for a while so the thought of not running it didn't sound appealing to me. Plus doing two 100's eleven weeks apart is very reasonable.  well it bit me in the ass and i was sidelined for about five weeks following the race due to a knee injury.  looking back at it, it wasn't that big of a deal anyways since i could have used a break from running and a good recovery.  the whole time i ate horrible and packed on some pounds. i planned on putting on 5-8 on purpose, but that turned into 15 before i knew it.  so now i sit here 6 weeks before the race only running a handful of times in the past month and 15 pounds overweight.

Hurt this year has one stacked field with quite a few very talented male and female runners that are capable of competing with the best.  since training isn't going as planned, i've decided to take a more relaxed approach.  I think that will increase my chances of finishing plus its kind of nice going back to the mindset of having fun and remembering what its all about.  my goal is to not wear a watch at all during training, and i deleted my pace chart that i made up for the race.  I want to start the race very relaxed and see what the course is all about on loops 1 & 2.  Loop three i may bust out my ipod to mix things up and have some fun out there.  if all is going well and i want to take it up a notch for loops 4 & 5 and shoot for a goal then thats cool.  the approach im taking is very similar to my first 100 attempt at the 2010 cactus rose.
HURT 100 course
Im taking a little different training approach as well.  I recently watched the movie "indulgence" featuring Anton Krupicka and really liked his relaxed approach to training.  I don't really consider it training, he runs everyday with no gadgets and just for the love of running.  Before cactus i ran all of my long runs for time and stared at my watch and pace the entire time.  it was excellent training and very fun in a way, but i want to enjoy running in its raw form for the next month.  My goal is to not wear a watch at all until after the race.  Just have a general idea of how many hours i want to run and go out and enjoy the day on the trails.  I think it will be a good mix up for my training and hopefully i'll reconnect with why i love running.  Im do not plan on going slower by any means, but just 100% by feel and when i feel like quitting i'll go home. simple as that.

Monday, October 31, 2011


Remembering what its all about...

I sit here writing this on the Wednesday before the race.  I finished my last run today before the race.  For a 100, I usually take the Thursday and Friday off before the race.  For a solid 11 months now I’ve been focused on this race and all of my training has been geared toward this.  Immediately after last year I said my goal was a sub 20 for this year.  I set three main training goals that I told myself I needed to meet in order to be in the kind of shape it would take to achieve a sub 20 at cactus.  I easily met all three goals in training and feel as ready as can be.

So what does this mean for Saturday?  My pace chart that I created months ago is a 19:25 finish time.  My goal splits are 4:20, 4:35, 5:00, 5:30.   I plan on going by feel the first 50 instead of even looking at my pace chart.  So I have to hope that my comfortable pace gets through two loops in under 9 hours.  I love making tough goals for races, and if I don’t meet it I won’t be disappointed.  The only way I’ll be disappointed is if I have a bad attitude or don’t try.  No matter what my time is, a finish is still most important to me.  During a 100, its not about avoiding low points.  Its about overcoming them and digging deep til the end because low points are inevitable.  

Over the past couple weeks my pacers have kind of been up in the air but seemed to come together perfectly today.  I’ve got my friend Matt Doellman pacing me on loop three.  I ran about the first 30 miles with him last year and he’s run many 100’s himself including Leadville a couple months ago.  For loop 4 I have Matt Crownover.  He is the only person I’ve ever really trained with and his ultra resume is a mile long.  He probably understands my running better then anyone so having him for the final push is ideal.  I’m looking forward to loop 4, because in an ultra there becomes a point when there is no longer a pacing strategy.  You just run and do all you can to keep moving.  The first three loops I’ll be forced to hold back which is never fun. Last but not least is my bro.  He’s the one that’s going to make this happen.  He’s my crew and going to have my bottles and food ready at all the aids to keep me moving and my spirits high. 

Am I in over my head?  Am I getting ahead of myself trying to improve over 4 hours from last year?  We’ll see…

well it didn't quite go as planned.  My knees have never hurt during training.  I take my training runs very aggressively and even after 40 miles my knees feel perfect.  still haven't figured out what went wrong Saturday, but my left knee is the size of a grapefruit right now...

left knee is quite a bit larger then it should be

At the start i started out in a comfortable pace which happened to be up front.  I led the race for the first two miles which i didn't like.  I kept slowing down expecting somebody else to take it.  Finally after a couple miles a group of 4 guys decided to blow past me. I was relieved that i could now focus and run my own race.  besides taking a wrong turn by the bar-o camp ground (added about 1/2 a mile) loop 1 went good.  i ran a comfortable pace like i planned.  I was very pleased to see that the climbs were very easy and that my hill training had paid off.  I left for loop 2 at 4:18ish and two minutes ahead of schedule.

cactus rose 100 - coming in at mile 40 to nachos aid

the first section went good and made up a couple more minutes.  when i left boyles my left knee felt tight.  i didn't think anything of it, but was disappointed to have a pain so early in the race.  i made it into mile 35 about eight minutes ahead of my pace chart which was the most all day.  i left and felt the first signs of stomach issues.  i knew right away it was electrolytes, and took in a few extra s caps.  the remainder of loop 2 sucked because it was taking longer to get my salt back up then i thought. I was struggling to stay on pace for the first time.  I came into the 50 mile at 9:02ish only a couple minutes shy of where i wanted to be.

Cactus Rose 100 - coming in at mile 50 at about 9:02

i knew that having a pacer now that i could get back on schedule.  my electrolytes were getting back on track and i was feeling normal again.  by this point my knee pain was coming and going but progressively getting worse.  every aid station it would tighten up and i would feel it when i would try to start going again.  everything was going smooth on this loop until about mile 63 when we were heading back to equestrian from ice cream hill and realized we were on the wrong trail.  we were talking and having a good time so i still don't know where the mistake happened.  i know this course extremely well, so i looked up and let out some cuss words and told matt we were on trail 6 headed toward the saddle instead of the easy jeep road back to equestrian.  we had to back track a little to get back on the right trail which added 5-10 minutes i would guess.  i had to shrug it off and not worry about it, because thats part of trail running. especially since this course is marked so well i had no excuse. Besides my knee getting worse loop 3 went good for the most part and i came in with about a 5:09 loop which isn't too far off my goal of 5 hours.

cactus rose 100 - matt doellman and i coming in at mile 65 feeling good
I left for loop 4 with a ton of energy with Matt Crownover.  Hes an awesome runner himself and really knows what he's doing and the best pacer one could be.  I left and my knee was very tight.  it was always tight after an aid so i figured it would loosen up as i got moving again.  i had intentions of attacking loop 4 big time and really laying down the hammer. my plan all summer was to run my own race the first 2 or 3 loops then attack loop 4.  I was right where i wanted to be. we tried to start running and my knee wouldn't bend. so we walked some more.  once up cairne's climb we tried again to run but it was very painful.  we kept trying but my knee just wouldn't bend.  i had a very fast power hike and it wasn't causing any pain so i just kept doing that.  we talked about everything and had a good time.  i felt bad that matt had come all the way and we weren't "running" loop 4.  i had to accept that fact that nothing goes as planned and remember what its all about. 

I was disappointed in the fact that my legs still felt great and ready to fire for loop 4 but i never got the chance to dig deep and push myself in that way.  in this race i had to push myself mentally to keep a good attitude because for a minute i was forgetting my number one rule of always have fun and have good attitude. i think without matt there to keep me company i would have had a bad attitude and it would have been hard to keep going.  an eight hour walking loop in the dark is pretty boring and not what i had in mind.  Lorenzo Sanchez and Rhonda claridge both passed me on loop 4 to put me in 4th place.  Lorenzo had an awesome run and I was happy to see him do well. my final finish time was 22:21ish (results aren't up yet).  an hour and a half faster then last year even though i did loop 4 over 2 hours slower this year haha. 

cactus rose 100 - my brother and i afterwards with my metal rose and buckle. time for a beer!

i've had a tough time accepting the fact that it didn't go as planned, but you learn a lot every race. nutrition was spot on and i never got sick and i looked forward to that gu everytime. i keep telling myself that i should be proud of myself for staying focused on training and for not quitting when things went south.  It was still a fun day and im very happy for everybody that was out there.  its always awesome to see people finish and achieve something.   it was such a positive environment to be in and i left with a ton of inspiration.  til next year...

last but not least there are five people i need to thank.  first is my brother. he did a perfect job crewing for me and he has no idea how greatful i am.  the next two are the two matts. they were the best pacers one could ask for.  this race would have been hell without them, and they kept my attitude positive and kept it fun.  next is joe. he puts on awesome races everytime.  cactus rose is a special race and i don't think i'll ever pass up the opportunity to run it.  a self supported race with peaceful aid stations is ideal.  i hate other races coming into an aid station that i don't have a drop bag at.  well done once again joe!  and last is the volunteers. they are the heart of the race and go unappreciated sometimes.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Taper Time!

This is a time that i look forward to, but at the same time can't stand.  I look forward to it during my high milage training because it is a break.  During my high milage weeks (about 8 weeks in a row of 70-110 miles per week) i struggled with energy levels throughout the day.  I would have times when i just felt really worn out, but my runs never suffered bad enough to back off.

Their are several things i hate about the taper though. First with lower milage I can't eat as much and i'm hungry all the freakin time.  Its a real struggle to not eat so damn much.  I know if i overeat, i can't do a long run and burn it off, and I know its stuck on me for the race.  Also, when i get home from work, if i don't have a run or something to do i get bored easily.  I don't watch tv period.  when you've got extra time, thats when the anxiety of the race really sets in.  I've only been tapering for a couple days but feel like im ready to go!  These next ten days better hurry!

Game plan for Cactus-
I believe that few people "carb load" correctly.  maybe their ways work for them but not for me.  I believe in eating a moderately larger meal Thursday evening and Friday for lunch.  Friday for dinner I believe in eating a carb dense meal but not too much of it.  I like going to bed a tad hungry.  I do this for two main reasons.  One it allows your body to pass more of it and have a good dump before the start, and hopefully none or minimal dumps during the event.  And second if i start the race just a bit hungry (not empty by any means) it makes me crave those gus that most people dread.  That way i look forward to eating during the race and it minimizes my chances of getting nausous.

The Salomon XT Wings S Lab 4's with the regular XT Wings behind
 I plan on wearing these bad boys the whole time (the salomon XT Wing S Lab 4's).  Its the racing version of the xt wings behind them (retail $170).  They are 11oz compared to 14oz and have a seamless inside to minimize blisters.  Killian Jornet wears them so you know they're good!  i've always worn the xt wings and think they're perfect for trails like bandera.  Gary, my pacer, works at a shoe store and gave them to me.  I was beyond pumped!

liquid calories during the race - hand helds with one water and one clip2.  Clip2 is a succeed product designed for races like the 100 miler.  it has a bit of protien / amino acids and tryglycerides.  its still mainly carbs of course though.  another thing i like about it is that out of the 35g of carbs only 2g are from simple sugars.  During a 100 i try to avoid sugar highs especially early on.  toward the end i will have some red bull or mountain dew at the aids to mix it up and give me some instant sugar.

food calories - the first 50 im sticking to mainly gu's about every 2.5 miles.  Depending on feel, i'll have some gu chomps, powerbar gel blast, or shot blocks at the aids with a gu in middle of the section.  I plan on pretty much all of my calories coming from gels or that type of stuff.  If my stomach starts craving something else i'll have a couple different back ups like snickers or pringles, but hopefully won't tough that.

salt - i will attach a bag to my shorts with 19 S! caps in it.  i plan on taking on right before each aid station and see how that goes.  i may pop a couple extras in the heat of the day if its a hot one.

crew- This is what im doing differently this year.  My brother is going down with me.  He's always been supportive of my running and im very glad to have him down there.  Not only to crew, but to make the weekend fun.  I'm having him have my spare set of handhelds ready and a box of food open for when i come through an aid.  my goal is average less then 20 seconds at each aid station throughout the race.  i'm puting drop bags out but just for my peace of mind, and i hope to never have to tough them.  at least the first 50, some aids i just plan on grabbing the new handhelds on the go and never breaking stride.  i've got my goal splits on paper and he's going to let me know where i stand at each aid station.

This is my first 100 to race.  Its only my 2nd ever but my first i went out for completion and took my time.  You take big gambles when trying to race a 100.  I believe in a 50 if you go out a little too fast you can still finish without too much suffering.  But in a 100 if you go out too fast you can really crash and burn and either quit (which i won't do) or have a miserable night out there.  I once heard "those who don't take a chance, don't get a chance"  That goes through my head during every race and while im making my goals before a race.  If I don't go into the race looking for a fast time then a good time won't happen.  Thats the gamble im taking this time.  Racing 100's requires a lot of experience so i know i'll learn a lot during this one.  Hopefully i can use that knowledge at hurt 100 in january.

pacers- right now i've got gary and matt.  gary is doing loop 3 with me and my main goal is to BS and keep my mind off of things.  Matt is doing loop 4 with me.  He has one of the longest ultra resumes out there and has paced in nearly every race you can think of, including some tough courses and top runners.  He is pretty much the only person i've ever trained with (99% of the time i train solo, and hard).  He has a ton of 100 knowledge and i know he can push me that final loop and make sure my splits happen.

In two weeks i'll have my race report up with my usual "pre race report" on my expectations / goals for the race.  I like doing that because i'm not afraid of failure, and to be honest, most races i don't meet my goals.  I don't mind posting my goals and im not worried about looking dumb if i miss it by a long shot.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Every Ultrarunner has their story...

Every ultrarunner has their own story on how or why they got into the sport.  Its not typically a sport that people take on for no reason or just fall into.  I think we all have it engraved in our dna from day one,  whether we knew it or not.  It takes a drive deep down to want to compete in these type of grueling events.  They are not the "fun run" feel good the whole time stroller pushin type races that are easy for people to see why others do them.  Most of the time there is quite a bit of pain and some pretty low points throughout the race that makes outsiders think that we're all f*#%in nuts.  In a way, they're probably right, and during most races we think ourselves are nuts for doing it.  Ultrarunners must have the worst memories because no matter how many times during a race we say we'll never do it again, at the finish all we talk about is the next one.

I grew up in a sport playing family so working out and sports were always around.  I grew up overweight and many many times would try and lose weight.  At age 11 my sister started teaching classes and training at her future husbands gym in mansfield.  I joined there in 5th grade ready to get in shape.  From the beginning I started doing cardio and had many random goals especially for a 5th grader.  One goal was to do the EFX for an hour straight (at the time i thought 15 minutes was all i could handle).  Another goal was to run a 5k without stopping.  When i was 13 i finally ran that first 5k and didn't stop to walk but it took over 30 minutes.  I was proud of myself, but knew that there were bigger goals to be made.  About a year later my sister and brother-n-law were getting a group together to go out to san diego to run their rock n roll marathon.  One I couldn't miss out on the fun, plus I knew that if they could do it why couldn't I?  I had over a year to train so it was definately feasable.  I trained off and on but didn't take it nearly as serious as i should.  I never lost weight, in fact that was the heaviest time of my life.  I was puting in very little milage just enough to get by.  The race rolled around and i was about 225 lbs and nearly died that day. it took me over 6 hours but i finished.

During training my mother was diagnosed with cancer.  I believe she was proud of my goals so there was no way in hell i was going to quit and let her down.  Every race I run I believe she would have been proud and that right there has got me through some low points.  I wear a cross neclace during every race.  When i was five she gave it to me one year for christmas.  I wear it as a way of saying "hey look im still running and hopefully you would be proud of me"  Not to get weird but i feel like a different person during an ultra and i feel just a little closer to her.  Running ultras is my way of living so someday if im diagnosed and laying there i can hopfully tell myself that I lived my life to its fullest.  I've run in some pretty awesome places including the San Juan mountains of Colorado which i'll always remember the rest of my life.  That is something that nobody else will ever understand so when people call me crazy for running so much it doens't fase me at all because there is quite a bit of meaning behind it.

 About a year went by and my weight was still an issue and at one point even hit 240.  I decided to do the Arizona rock n roll marathon in January and knew i had to drop some pounds in order to do it.  I got down to about 210 but that was still pretty darn heavy.  i took training a bit more seriously but still ran about a 5:20 marathon.  The next year i decided to take it up a notch, lose weight, and try to run a sub 4.  thats quite a bit faster, but me being the person i am, i knew if i put in the training it would happen.  I got down to about 190 and had a pretty solid training and ran a 3:54 at whiterock.  The next year did the same, but some switch inside my head was turned on and i viewed running in a totally different aspect from their on out.

After Whiterock '07 (3:50) i decided my next goal was to qualify for Boston.  People thought i was nuts since i would have to run a sub 3:10.  I knew i had to do two things, drop some weight (still 190 at the time) and incorporate speed work.  I dropped down below 175 fairly quickly and was doing tons of speed work.  I upped my milage so fast that i got injured and it put me out for about 5-6 months.  That summer i was newly 21 and drinking and having a good time.  I got back up to 200 and was miserable.  I decided that i needed to make a lifestyle change and that i missed the running and training.  I still had the goal of qualifying and was ready to do whatever it took to get it done.  I cut out the booze, took on a healthy diet and got on a pretty solid training plan.  Training went good and i made my first attemp at whiterock '08.  the weather was horrible and bonked out at mile 20 and missed it big time.  My whole demenor was shot and i felt like a big time failure.  I looked at my training and finally convinced myself that i was still capable and gave it another shot the next month in Arizona.  I ran a 3:20 and basically just hit a low point miles 22-24 which put me off pace.  I decided to try again december whiterock '09.

This is when the Ultra world opened up to me.  I took training very serious and bought a couple booked online.  One was dean karnazes 50/50/50 and the other was "running through the wall".  A book called running through the wall sounds like a marathon book right?  I bought them both wanting to read about marathons and figure out ways to get faster.  I opened up that book and realized that it was all ultramarathon stories from different people sent in.  I was in shock that there was a whole nother sport and distances beyond the marathon.  Races that lasted days through the mountains sounded freakin crazy to me.  but the more i kept reading, something inside of me was inspired and knew i had to try these out for myself.  i still focused on a sub 3:10 marathon because that was my original goal and told myself i had to break that before i did a trail run.  That december i ran a 3:08 at whiterock so i was off teh hook as far as marathons and had no obligation to ever run one again.

I was signed up for the Bandera 50k in January of 2010.  In 2009 i ran two road 50k's.  At cowtown i ran a 4:07 that february.  Every night i was looking at 100 mile races on the internet and researching just how people actually did that stuff.  I told myself i needed to complete a couple 50k's first then a couple 50 milers before even thinking about a 100.  That january rolled around and i was on my way down to Bandera.  It was about 9 dagrees at the start but trail runners are a different breed and everybody was loving it!  The race went horrible for me, but it was ton of fun.  I liked the low key atmosphere non cowbell sideline people and i didn't miss the dumb signs people have at road races.  That race trashed me.  I wasn't ready for the rocks, the hills or the time.  It took me 6 1/2 hours compared to my 4 hour cowtown 50k.  Before bandera i had never actually done a single training run on a trail in my life.  So to get to bandera and start up cairne's climb was a real eye opener for me.  Even though it kicked my ass i was signed up for Hells Hills that April.  That was to be my first 50 attempt.  I did much more hill training and got in about 5 30 milers and a 35 miler.  Hells Hills went great and I loved it.  In fact it went so good that at mile 48 i was chatting with a guy and i told him i wanted to do a 100.  to my suprise he told me to go for it and i was in better shape then i thought.  With an experiences runner telling me that (he was training for hardrock), i believed in myself and when i got home i started looking for taht first 100.  my plan was to do one next summer to give myself 15 months to train.  I landed on Cactus Rose only 6 months away.  Once again i knew it could be done and i was beyond determined.  The training was so time consuming that i felt like i had to tell my family that it was the only 100 I would ever do.  At the time i told myself i only had to do one (even though i looked at badwater stuff every night and purposely trained in middle of the day).  Race day rolled around and it was more fun then i had imagined.  the race went great and i ran it pretty solid. no real low points and never ever considered quitting.  Even though i said that was my only one, a week later my application was in for western states.  My body held up pretty well and my pacer told me he would be disappointed if i never did another ultra. 

About two weeks after Cactus last year, I had my whole 2011 planned out.  I had about (4) 50 milers planned out but most of all i had my whole training schedule for the next cactus written out on paper.  Im looking at it right now because this weekend was one of my intermediate goals in training.  I have stuck to the training big time and have met every goal and stayed on track for 11 months now.  I ran Cactus in 23:53 in 2010.  Just two weeks later I said my goal was a sub 20 for 2011.  It sounded like a crazy goal, but i knew if i could meet those goals throughout the year that i was on track.  A goal no matter how farfetched, is never ever possible unless you believe in yourself.  I wrote down what needed to be done and told myself if I stick to it, there is no reason why I can't.  I started a vigorous hill workout and took my long runs serious and went for time on every one of them.  I practiced nutrition and quick exchanges at aid stations to get ready.  The race is 4 weeks away and i'm ready to go for it!  I once heard "those who don't take a chance, don't get a chance"

Sunday, September 4, 2011


Sansom Park in Fort Worth - a view from the top of my hill
  In my opinion, no matter the distance, surface, or terrain of the race you're training for, hill work is essential.  Some people believe in speed intervals, some swear by the track, but for me its hills. 

Sansom Park - the trails that cut straight from the lake up to the parking lot are called the "fisherman trails"
 Hill training should be started easy and increased slowly.  It places quite a bit of stress on the joints and muscles, but thats what causes your body to adapt and make them stronger for next time.

Sansom Park - toward the top of the climb

 Every other weekend I drive 40 minutes to Sansom Park on Lake Worth.  Not only is it a beautiful place with rugged trails, its boast these super rocky and rugged climbs that you just can't find anywhere else in DFW.  Im sure there are some out there but these are in the same park as 9 other miles of great trails.

Sansom Park - from the bottom looking up (this is way steeper then this picture shows)
  I do a long run / hill work on those days.  I usually do 3 sets of hills sandwiched between 4 one hour sets of actual running on the other trails.  After about a 6 mile warm-up i head to this hill.  Its right at 1/8 of a mile long.  I'll do 4 up and downs to equal exactly one mile.  It climbs 150 ft in only 1/8 of a mile, so my 1 mile set will feature 600 ft elevation gain and of course 600 ft elevation loss.  This one mile usually takes me between 12 - 14 minutes.  The down hills are what I can take aggressively if I'm feeling fresh that will improve my time.  My uphill speed doesn't fluctuate nearly as much.

Sansom Park - another spot on my hill
  The footing is what makes it so hard.  The entire thing is lose rock that causes your feet to slide quite a bit.  Going down is the scary part.  I love it because it builds coordination and confidence on this type of terrain. 

Sansom Park - looking down the first section of the climb.  With all the loose rock, its best to take it carefully. i've wiped out many times!
  This one mile set will max your heart rate out and will push you mentally just to keep running period without walking.  This type of hill during a race would obviously be power hiked, but im out here to push my body.  During training runs I try to find the toughest route up any hill and never ever walk it.  If you take training runs easy, where is the stimulant for you body to improve? 

Sansom Park - another view looking down my hill
  Hill sprints will raise your heart rate up and keep you gasping for air the whole time.  I consider it a strength and VO2 workout.  Hills, especially on this terrain, will build muscles and strengthen your joints.  That will leave you less injury prone and able to power up hills during races.  It also helps you mentally finding a hill thats so steep that every other hill you encounter will seem pretty insignificant.

Sansom Park - at the bottom is my start / finish / turnaround point

Below is a picture going up Lucky Peak at Bandera.  See a resemblance?  These hills I train on, are as close to Bandera terrain as it gets.  My goal is to feel so comfortable on this terrain that this little race in October they call the Cactus Rose 100 is a breeze.  Well, maybe not a breeze, because if it doesn't hurt like hell then you're doing something wrong. I started doing this hill workout just two weeks after last Cactus Rose back in November.

Bandera 100k / Cactus Rose 100 - a view going up lucky peak

Bandera 100k / Cactus Rose 100 - same spot on lucky peak but looking down

Tuesday, August 30, 2011


            Once again im writing this first paragraph a couple days prior to the race to see how my goals/expectations compare to the actual outcome.  This summer training has been going good.  The biggest difference in the summer compared to last is that on my long runs, im hardly slowing down at all toward the end, if not speeding up.  Last year I would start fading big time as I started approaching the 30 mile mark.  This year I’ve stayed pretty solid throughout the entire run.  Plus I’ve got nutrition down much better then last year.  So as far as Saturday is concerned, I usually have two time goals going into a race.  A goal I think I should make and a goal that if I have a good race is in grasp.  For this race a 6:15 is what I think im capable of, but a sub 6 is my true goal.  The race is (4) 9.1 mile loops with a .8 mile out n’ back on park road to start.  I plan on my splits all being within ten minutes of each other.  That means my fastest loop around a 1:25 and my slowest loop no slower then a 1:35. predictions: 1:28 (counting the out n’ back), 1:25, 1:30, 1:35 for a 5:58.  where does that put me?  My guess is third.  Neal Lucas will probably run closer to a 5:15 and steven at around a 5:30.  There are some good runners going to be there so I have no idea if there will be somebody that will hang the entire race.  I bet there will be a handful guys that go out fast and are ahead of me the first loop at least.  After every race you either have excuses, question yourself if you could have gone faster, or lie there knowing you gave it your all.  I’ve been guilty of the first, but I’ve found myself with the second one every other time.  There hasn’t really been a race when I’ve truly had no regrets.  Will Saturday be different?  Only time will tell…
                                     Loop 1              loop 2                loop 3                loop 4

  • 20 sec after loop1, 1 min after loop 2, and 2 min after loop 3 to eat, drink, and refill bottles

            This is one of the first races where I really don’t have any huge regrets.  After every race this year and last year, there was something major that I was disappointed with and knew I could have done better.  Why was this one different?  I went into with confidence because I knew that distance was something that I could run hard the whole time and I am very used to the heat.  Also, I was in the chase to maintain 2nd and to possibly chase down neal lucas and give him his first loss. 
            Nothing ever goes as planned during an ultra.  The longer the distance, the more you’re stepping into the unknown.  That’s why they say “ you run long enough something is bound to happen”.  It couldn’t have been 5 miles into the race when I realized a big mistake.  I put so much thought into how I was going to get all my bottles/food ready for the most efficient drop bag possible.  At that moment I realized I forgot to add my electrolyte formula to my bottles, and that they were just straight water.  It demoralized me big time. For about a mile I was thinking of things to do, but in my mind I had just blown my race.  That’s why when you’re an ultra runner you make adjustments and you stick to it and you make the best of it.  I upped my s cap intake from 45 minutes to 30 minutes and added one more gu per loop to make up for the lost calories.  Then I figured it would be a good experiment to see how I did.  After that I told myself to forget about it and just focus on running.
            Loop 1 – the start is a .84 mile out n’ back on park road to get the distance right.  This gives you a chance to get ahead before it cuts to single track and the passing is tough.  Going into the race the spotlight was on Steven Moore and Neal Lucas.  They’ve come in 1 & 2 at all the other races and Neal is 5 for 5 in his short ultra career.  They busted out in front as expected with some guy that obviously started too quick.  I came in from the out n’ back with two others all tied at 5th, 6th, and 7th.  We ran that at about a 7:15 pace which felt comfortable to me.  To me the out n' back was perfect, it gave all the runners a chance to basically start the race exactly where they wanted. I stayed with those two guys for about the first mile once we got on the actual course. Then I decided to run my own race and take the lead.  At this point there was a gap between us and the front runners.  So I stayed in that gap for a while.  At mile 6 I caught the guy that started out too fast and finished loop with him tied for 4th and 5th.  Loop one went as expected and I was right on schedule.  I just focused on eating/ drinking at the right time and running as fast/efficiently/comfortable at the same time.
            Loop 2 – I ditched the camelback and picked up my handhelds out of my ice chest and was off.  That was my 2nd problem.  I left out the eating part. About 1 minute down the road I thought shit! I forgot to eat.  How could I be so damn dumb?  Before the race I put two emergency gus in my shorts so I had to tap into those for loop 2.  that was the only smart thing that I did.  I had two gus in my bottles but I didn’t feel like it was sufficient calories for a loop.  Most people that would be plenty, but I require lots of calories and lots of fluids in order to keep firing for 6 straight hours.  Loop 2 was uneventful with just making sure I ran solid and stayed on top of calories, fluids, and salt. 
            Loop 3 – the race begins.  I made damn sure I ate this time (a pack of cola flavored powerbar gummies), some red bull and some mountain dew.  I took in a lot more caffine then usual during this race but it seemed to help, but that’s not for everyone.  I grabbed my other spare bottles and was off right on schedule again.  Two hours fifty four minutes and nineteen miles into a race and I was still within a minute of my schedule.  I was feeling fine and on schedule so I was pumped.  The first two loops I planned on running my own race regardless of place, but on loops 3 and 4 I would let my pace be a little more influenced by others.  The first section of the loop was still the same.  But at mile 23 I saw some blue shorts up ahead moving quickly.  At this point I was lapping tons of people that were obviously moving pretty slow.  So to see somebody moving quickly I knew it had to be steven.  I honestly didn’t expect to catch him.  I thought about catching them every night leading up to the race how awesome that would be, but never really expected it to happen.  I caught him and just planned on staying behind him for a while because I didn’t want him being the hunter.  We chatted for a minute but then just settled into a silent grove for the next 4 miles.   I started noticing that on the up hills I was damn near stepping on his shoes.  He then stepped aside and said why don’t you take the lead.  I wasn't sure if he planned on sticking with me or not, but I told him to stick behind me and that we would hunt down neal together.  I got no response and never saw him again.  I knew he was having a bad day because according to his other races he was capable of a much faster time.  Being the type of guy he is, after the race I never heard one excuse from him though. I was pumped and it was just the adrenalin I needed at that point because I was started to feel a little tired before I caught steven.  Knowing I was in 2nd, I didn’t let up.  I finished loop 3 once again right on schedule and nobody really said anything to me because i popped in and out pretty low key.
            Loop 4 – I refilled my bottles ate the same stuff and drank the same stuff.  I stuffed an extra gu in my bottle knowing that my legs were running close to empty and I needed those immediate calories to keep the intensity needed.  I started loop 4 in a little bit of pain but nothing at all more then you would expect after running 28 miles.  At this point I knew I was faced with the decision.  It’s the same decision that every runner faces in every race.  The decision to relax the pace and be happy with finishing in a still impressive time or to search deep within and preserve til the end.  For the first time really, I chose number two.  I wanted that third option at the finish to lie there knowing I gave it my all.  I decided to stick the pace and gut It out.  Also, in the back of my mind I kept thinking what if neal isn’t that far ahead? I could give him his first loss, or if he finished two minutes ahead of me I would be so mad at myself for not pushing.  I kept hammering down the miles, and it never got too painful.  Not nearly painful enough to slow or walk.  I also kept reminding myself that I was at a tough part of the race mentally.  Because I still had quite a few miles so I couldn’t see the light just yet.  I just told myself that pain doesn’t last forever and at some point it can’t get any worse.  I kept saying that this is the lowest point of the night.  And guess what? It was.  I owe that to my experience I’ve gained over the past year.  I always finish strong and feel way too good afterwards.  I hit the last aid with 2.6 miles to go at 5:32. I knew that a sub 6 was going to happen as long as I didn’t slow down.  I decided to speed up instead.  I took the pace up at least a minute a mile and it felt great.  Halfway through the section I took it up another notch and was flying at about an eight minute pace.  For running trails at night that’s about as high as I wanted to go.  I kept looking out for neal but I knew he was probably done running and munching on his burger already.  I sprinted it in and kind of took them by surprise when I finished.  They were not expecting me to come in 2nd and that was half my motivation this whole race.  They asked in a kind of puzzled voice "are you finished? yes. 60k? yes" "joe weve got a finisher"
            Post race thoughts:  liquid calories – red bull, mountain dew, and 1 bottle of gu brew from the ice chest.  Straight water on the course.  Food calories: 1 package of chomp blocks, 2 packages of cola power bar gummies, and about 10 gus, and about 10 gin gin boost (20 cal each). For a total of about 2,000 during the race im guessing.  After every race Im always too quick to leave and always miss out on the post race festivities.  This race I grabbed my chair my negra and a burger and relaxed.  A group of about 15 stayed for a while and had a great time.  I was planning on napping for a couple hours before hitting the road but i kind of ran out of time and had to leave with out sleep.  In this sport there really aren’t any winners or losers.  Nobody really talked about what place they got or what their pace was besides the people coming up to steven and neal a lot to get the outcome of the series.  Not a single person came up to me and asked what place I got.  That was fine with me because I was proud of myself, and i don't really care what people think or want attention.  I feel that once you’ve run several ultras especially a 100, you stop caring what anybody thinks at all, and you do it all for yourself.  This was just the confidence booster i needed going into the race that i've been thinking about every night since November...Cactus baby!