Ending with a DNF in Leadville

It’s been over a month now, and my knees are largely better. I don’t have a whole lot to say about the race. Things started off very well, and I was running in the top 5-8% through the half-way point. I jogged the flats, downs, and mellow uphills, and hiked anything even remotely steep. I kept the calories, fluids, and salts coming in, and truly felt not just good but great. At the turnaround at Winfield I was joined by my friend Jordan, took on some poles for the hike back over Hope Pass, and my knees completely fell apart. The hike back up the pass was neither blistering nor crawling, but the pain got worse as I went up. I had to stop at the Hope Pass aid station for a while, and an amazing volunteer spent several minutes working on my legs. It helped for a few minutes but the pain came back, and the descent back to Twin Lakes was a painful crawl. By the end my knees were in such bad shape that Jordan could hear them crunching every few steps, and I dropped out as soon as I got back to Twin Lakes, 62.5 miles in, only 38.5 to go. It sounds like a long way to go but had my knees held up, I have no doubts I would’ve finished strongly. I’m hugely appreciative to my friends who came out to help me that day – Jordan, Greg, Meredith, and Nate – and wish I hadn’t dragged them up there for nothing. And I have to thank my wonderful wife for putting up with this whole-summer debacle and supporting me through it.

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I’ve run twice since then, a four-mile jog from home and a trail race – the same one I won a couple years ago. Things didn’t go quite so well this time around, as I finished 9th (2nd in AG).

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I suppose going out as pack-fodder on a beautiful day is better than doing it with a painful DNF. It was quite a summer, but I’m glad to be done, and I’m glad to be able to focus on my family. Truth be told, I was growing tired of all the running and have been looking forward to new things. There will always be new adventures, and for the foreseeable future they’re going to be enjoyable.

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Leadville Silver Rush 50 Weekend

This past weekend was one I’ve been looking forward to wrapping up for a while now. For the Leadman series, I was only required to do one of the two 50 mile races. Needing a qualifying time to get in a better corral in the 100 MTB, doing the bike race was the obvious choice. If I hadn’t, I’d start the race in the very back, behind at least 1000 people (there were ~1,350 finishers last year) and have almost no chance of finishing under nine hours. So doing the 50 mile bike race on Saturday was a given. At the same time, I went in to this series having never run an ultramarathon – so maybe it would be good to get the experience of a 50 mile run to sort out my pacing, nutrition, etc. And if I did it the day after a bike race, I’d have the bonus of doing those 50 miles on already-tired legs. And with that, another poor decision was made – to do a pair of 50 mile races back to back.
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7 Weeks ’til Boston

It’s hard to believe, but Boston is coming up quick. Harder to believe is that Boston, formerly my A-race – and probably only race of the season – is essentially a warm up for what’s to come. Training is going well, hitting 50mpw consistently (if you count the miles from climbing and skiing Grays Peak a week ago) including a weekly 19+ mile run, along with a decent road ride each week and some light weights.

Last Saturday (Feb 18) I went up to Grays Peak for some exercise, and ran in to Chris Tomer on the summit. We hadn’t seen each other in a few years and have been trying to connect, so that was a fun surprise. Despite gigantic sastrugi, the skiing was very pleasant and even went continuous from summit to car.

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On the summit of Grays Peak Photo: Chris Tomer
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Mike skiing in front of a sun dog Photo: Chris Tomer
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Chris skiing on Grays Peak

Weather and life have made it difficult to keep consistent, and this coming week will probably be tougher.

I’ve settled on a couple gear decisions, the main one being bike choice – I’m going to stick with my FS trail bike, make a couple upgrades, and get some race tires. A new race bike would be nice but just isn’t in the budget. I’m still figuring out shoes, both run and bike. Beyond that, trying to schedule my spring/summer training around family, work, skiing, and races is my current focus on the Leadman front.

Leadville Trail 100 Pacing

A couple weekends ago I got to do one of my favorite things – cover long distances in the mountains at night at a good pace. Several months ago, I received an email from a friend, who was passing on an email from a guy he knew, about someone else looking for a pacer (or something like that). The racer, Scott Loughney, was preparing for the Leadman competition – essentially racing all summer long in Leadville. Scott’s target time for the 100 was 24-25 hours, putting the last quarter of his race solidly in the overnight hours. Perfect.

Saturday night of the race, I headed up to the Fish Hatchery to take over pacing duties and found Scott’s brother Todd all set up and ready for Scott to come in.

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This was my first time at an ultramarathon, and it was quite the scene.

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Scott came in pacerless, having been too fast for his wife to keep up with.

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A few minutes of rehydrating and sorting new gear and we were off, me with two packs to ease the burden on Scott’s legs, which already had 76 miles in them.

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The evening was chilly, but keeping the pace up kept us both warm.

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There aren’t a whole lot of pictures because, well, it was night time and we had a pace to keep up. To my pleasant surprise, Scott had no major issues during the six and a half hours we were moving through the mountains. Temps dropped quite a bit in the last hour, but a good support crew came through with our warmer clothes just in time.

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Scott came in with a time of 24:31 (for a total Leadman time of 45:18, good for 14th in the series), plenty of time under the cutoff for the big belt buckle.

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It was a great time and I look forward to pacing again. I even came away with a valuable lesson – that I have little interest in ever doing a 100 mile race.

Congratulations Scott, and thanks for having me along for the ride!

Boulder Ultra Cross

Boulder Ultra CX was possibly the hardest and most enjoyable race I’ve done all year. No official support, no course markings, and best of all – no entry fees. The course was 50 miles long, which I successfully navigated due to the GPS mounted on my bike’s stem. It included 6,000′ of climbing, including one uninterrupted 20-mile long, 3,300′ climb. The course looked a little something like Continue reading

ITU Cross Tri World Championships

Last season was my first season dabbling in triathlon. I did four races – a full IM, an XTERRA, a half IM, and a sprint. I enjoyed the XTERRA far more than the rest, and did much better in it than the rest to boot – second place in my (less than competitive) age group – and decided that off road tris would be my focus for this season. A few months ago, I learned that the southeast regional championship, held in Pelham, AL each year, would also be an ITU world championship race, and that I’d be racing for Team USA should be accepted. I jumped at the opportunity, and received my acceptance letter a few days after applying. A few months of good training went by, and following a very long drive, Lauren and I found ourselves at Oak Mountain State Park.

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