Sunday, August 3, 2014

On the Trails Again

This past week I have slowly been getting back at it. As in running/training again. On Thursday I started with 6 hill repeats. I needed to wake my legs up per say. Then on Friday I did a nice and easy 6 mile recovery run. I was feeling pretty good. Mentally, it helped to be focused again on running/training. This weekend I had big plans in store for me and Trailmomma, I emailed Trailmomma and we decided upon 16-20 miles starting at the base of stagecoach and doing the Clementine and Overlook loops. We wanted to do loops as the day was going to be super hot. Soon enough our little run of two turned into 5 of our running friends. Awesome, it's always better to run in a large group especially when it is hot.

We arrived at the base of Stagecoach around 6:25 am and were ready to start running around 6:30. It was already muggy when we started. We ran the Clementine loop first as I knew the mountain bikers would be out this nice weekend and I wanted to hit the loop before they started.. I was feeling pretty good, but I also noticed my legs were still recovering from my 50 mile adventure from a few weeks ago.

We finished up the Clementine loop and refueled at the car, I added some more ice and water to my hydration pack and enjoyed a banana and used the restroom. I also realized that the chaffing I had experienced at TRT was not 100% healed and was aggravated and hurt.

Soon we were ready to tackle the next 10 miles which we call the Overlook loop. We climbed the "fully exposed" Stagecoach and I just pitter pattered up this 2 mile climb. Power hiking every so often and just taking in the spectacular view. The climb was warm, but there was some shade, even though I still believe it is fully exposed. A little joke between Trailmomma and myself.

At the top of the climb the group regrouped as Miss P. and Karen tore it up. We hit the pavement and continued on our way. We had a little turkey sighting that made Trailmomma's heart skip a beat. I of course just laughed about it. We hit the water fountain and immediately dosed our bandanas in hopes of staying cool as it was getting really warm. Luckily we had stated early and would hopefully be done before the heat just drained us and baked us in the canyon. Miss P. lead the way and I took up the rear, just keeping the group in my sights. We hit the overlook in no time and again, cooled down. Now we only had 4 miles to go, but it was in the canyon and that was going to be hot.

I was feeling it in my legs and the chaffing was uncomfortable. We saw a lot of our friends on the trail at various points and it was nice to stop and catch up for a bit. That is the great thing about trail running, you can see a ton of your friends even though you may not have started at the same point and it makes for a nice day. We hit the waterfall and again cooled down. Only 2.5 miles to go, but the heat was zapping our energy. I was slowing down and I was sucking my water down. It was hot. The fire road to No Hands Bridge was super hot as it was exposed, but we kept a nice steady pace. We arrived at No Hands crossed over and made our way to Stagecoach for a nice 16 mile run.

I was done, the heat and my legs had had enough. Which was fine, as this was my first weekend running and 16 miles was a nice start. I am looking forward to hitting the trail with these amazing ladies again, the miles ticked by quickly and it was great to on the trails again.

What do I have planned in the upcoming months you may ask? I don't know, I do know that I am enjoying being on the trails again. I look forward to focusing on my fitness and maintaining a nice base.

Friday, August 1, 2014

Tahoe Rim Trail 100 Mile Race Report 2014

"A Glimpse of Heaven...........a Taste of Hell" is the motto for The Tahoe Rim Trails Endurance Runs. I was once again signed up for the 100 mile run. I had some unfinished business that I hoped to complete this go around. Like any race or 100 mile run this run is challenging. I have been coming to Tahoe every July for the past 4 years. Running the 50k twice, the 50 miler once and now attempting the 100 mile for the second time. I was determined this year that things would be different, I trained hard, I focused on my fueling, I had an amazing crew and pacers. All was set, now all I had to do was run.

The night before the race my crew and I reminisced over the past few months of training. We laughed and laughed the night away. Trailmomma has been my running partner for years, but this past year she was with me for just about every long run and boy did we have stories to tell. I think sitting there around the kitchen table and sharing and remembering our runs was one my favorite parts about the trip.

The morning of the race I awoke really early. I couldn't sleep, I had some major anxiety and when the alarm finally went off I bounced out of bed full of energy and ready to start the morning. My wife made me eggs, pancakes, ham, and strawberries. I enjoyed this meal like it was going to be my last. We arrived at the starting line about an hour before the race started and I found us a nice spot on the benches to relax and take in all the excitement. Soon it was time to head to the starting line. I kissed my wife and said " I will see you at diamond." and off I went into the cool morning.

Photo By Trailmomma, what was waiting for me on the kitchen table

Start To Hobart:

Right Before the start

The start to Hobart begins on a fire road. I quickly settled into a nice a pace. Soon the line began as we squeezed our way onto the single track trail. I wasn't in a hurry, I didn't try to pass anyone but there were plenty of runners passing me. I wasn't moving slow, I was moving just as quickly as the runner in front me. It was a comfortable power hike as we were climbing, or I should say snaking our way to the top before a nice descent down to Marlette lake. This year I took it all in. I took the time to look up ahead and also below me as the lights from everyone's flashlights were pretty amazing to see. Plus it kept my mind occupied and focused on the current task at hand, to make my way to Hobart aid station, roughly 6 miles. I arrived into Hobart on schedule and quickly gathered my drop bag and enjoyed a Special K breakfast bar. It was easy to eat as it was soft and tasted really good. I was also fueling with Power Gel as I had stopped using the prepetuam as I was getting sick while I trained with it. 

Hobart To Tunnel Creek:

I was in and out of Hobart rather quickly and started the climb up to peak and a gorgeous view of the lakes. I again settled into my pace and focused on the next 5 miles to Tunnel Creek. I knew that trail was super runnable once I crested the peak and I had a nice downhill section into Tunnel Creek. I also knew not to open up to much as the day was just beginning. I arrived at the downhill section and enjoyed the nice smooth rollers and switch backs to Tunnel Creek. I passed a few runners, but I didn't push the pace.I was running comfortable. I was excited to get to Tunnel Creek as my some of my crew were going to be there, I always enjoy seeing a friendly face or two when I am on this trail. Trailmomma and her friend from Canada Be-Well-Run would be at Tunnel Creek and with each step that brought me closer to Tunnel, the bigger my smile became. I arrived into Tunnel right on schedule, and quickly grabbed my drop bag and supplies, refilled my pack and departed. Trailmomma and Be-Well-Run were both waiting for me and cheering loud. It was awesome to see them. 

Photo by Trailmomma, Leaving Tunnel Creek #1 on my way to Red House Loop

Tunnel Creek to Red House Loop

The next section of trail was a 6 mile loop with a massive descent to the lowest elevation on the course. This descent is a quad buster and bone jarring. I took it conservatively on the descent. Here I saw a lot of the front runners and some of the faster 50k and 50 milers started to pass me as they started an hour after us. It is pretty cool to see and even better on the climb back out to offer and receive words of encouragement. I started the slow climb on the fire road. Running some here and power hiking some there. I hit the red house aid station and quickly did my best at making a ice bandana and cooling myself off as the day was getting warm, a bit warmer then previously reported. I knew this next section would be a grind so I just put my head down and continued on my way. Finally I hit the real climb out and slowly started to make my way back to Tunnel Creek. It was tough and it was hot. I just put my head down and carried on. Soon I could see my crew and Trailmomma comes running down to me and asked "How are you?" a harmless question, I quickly say "Why?" a not so harmless answer. She was a bit concerned because in years past I have run this flat section. I was feeling that climb out. I quickly avoided her question and looked at Be-Well-Run and asked "How did you enjoy the climb into Tunnel Creek?" she said "This isn't about me it's about you, how are you?" Such a great crew!!!!! I of course needed some calories and to recover from the climb so I entered Tunnel Creek and took my time getting situated. 

Photo By: Trailmomma, coming out of the red house loop, still smiling 

Photo By: Trailmomma, getting weighed for the first time, down 1 pound

As I entered Tunnel Creek I immediately was weighed. I was down 1 pound from Friday's weigh in, nothing to be concerned about. After weighing in I went and grabbed my drop bag and ate a special K bar, grabbed my bottle to help cool me down during the next 12 miles and picked up a few more gels. Then I sat down in the chair and emptied out my shoes, they were full of sand and pebbles, plus this gave me a moment to breath. Then I gathered my things and used the restroom and told my crew "At diamond have ensure and gatorade ready, I will see you guys there." and off I went to the cheering of my crew. (I also forgot to cross the timing mat, but my crew saved the day and told them)

Tunnel Creek to Bull Wheel to Diamond Peak:

Now I was on the longest stretch of trail, but I wasn't alone. My friend Tina who was also running the 100 miler was with me. We talked and talked, which made the 3 miles fly by. We arrived at bull wheel grabbed some food and started on the 9 mile stretch. I was carrying my water bottle to help keep my cool, as last year I burned up going through here. This year I wasn't going to make the same mistake. I started to notice my energy levels getting low, so I ate a special K bar and took in a gel. Soon, instead of power hiking I was running again. The fuel was what I needed. I pushed on keeping a nice comfortable pace, power hiking some here and there. Then I made that left turn and knew I had 4 miles to Diamond peak and my crew. On this descent though my stomach I had a stomach cramp and had to walk some of the downhill, which was fine as it saved my legs. I was near Diamond Peak so I changed my focus on what I needed instead of how I was feeling. I wasn't feeling terrible, but I also wasn't feeling good. The descent seemed to never end and all I wanted was for the descent to end. Soon, I could hear cheering and I knew I was close. I popped out of the trail and hit the parking lot and my crew immediately went into action. 

Arriving at Diamond Peak Aid Station

I told my crew I had put together a nice 12 mile section, in fact so much better then the previous years. I was stoked about that. I was focused coming into Diamond Peak. My crew took my pack and cooled me down as I walked to check in. Once I checked in they showed me our spot and I went to the bathroom. I was having a bit of discomfort (put lightly) and I needed to address it. I used the restroom, and it hurt. I was chaffed pretty good in that area and it was bleeding as well. In  my efforts this year to keep cool by squirting myself the water my shorts chaffed me in the groin. It hurt, I was swollen, but I was also determined. After the bathroom, I emptied out the pebbles and sand in my shoes, ate some food, drank some coke and was ready to go. 

Diamond Peak, taking care of the sand and pebbles

Photo By: Be-Well-Run, (I should have tried to keep my shorts dry)

I also soaked myself with the hose. I was overheating and it felt so good to cool down. My crew was fantastic here, they had me in and out in no time. I was excited to see them and also excited that this year I came into Diamond Peak in much better condition then last year. 

Kuni and I

Diamond Peak to Bull Wheel:

I was now on  my way up the 2 mile climb of the ski slope. Kuni walked me out a bit and told me to take my time on this climb. I had plenty of time, in fact, he told me to slow down, that it was ok to walk the downhills. I thanked him and off I went. I had my water bottle to keep me cool and I was fueled up. The first mile of the climb isn't that tough, I hiked it and I would pause in the shade when there was some to recover. Soon Tina caught up to me and we both worked our way up the hill. We would pause in the shade on the steeper section, and soon we were pausing every so many feet. It was brutal, but you know what, I was doing better then last year. As we climbed I looked to our left and noticed a storm cell coming in. I told Tina about it and that I hoped it hit us on our way to Tunnel Creek and not Snow Valley. I could hear the thunder in the distance. We climbed and climbed and eventually made our way to bull wheel. Once at bull wheel, we enjoyed the best tasting water mellon I have had this year (Ok, it has been the only water mellon I have had, but it was delicious.) We took some time here, I ate another special k bar and a gel. That climb took a lot out of me and I knew I needed the calories. 

Bull Wheel to Tunnel Creek:

Tina and I were both on our way to Tunnel Creek. It was 3 miles pretty much downhill to the aid station. I had a nice pace going, but I was also uncomfortable, the chaffing was getting worse, and causing a lot of pain. I sat down and emptied a boulder of a rock out of my shoes and then carried on. By this point Tina was a good distance ahead of me and moving well. I was feeling pretty bad and all I could focus on was the chaffing. I couldn't move past it. It burned. I eventually arrived at Tunnel Creek along with some sprinkles. Here I weighed in again and was down another pound, again nothing to be worried over the volunteer said. After weighing I grabbed my drop bag. I ate a Honey Stinger Waffle, a gel, a quarter of a pay day bar, and drank some coke. I took my time in this aid station. I also put the water bottle in my drop bag, and pondered over grabbing my rain jacket. (I had packed a wind breaker in my Hobart drop bag, my rain jacket in the tunnel creek drop bag, and my crew had a wind breaker at the 50 mile marker) I decided against (a decision that would prove costly in the miles to come). It only sprinkled a bit, so at the time I wasn't to concerned about the weather. 

Tunnel Creek To Hobart:

I left tunnel creek hoping that the calories I had just put in would help me get back on track. I also had plenty of food and gels in my pack to refuel on my way. I knew that this next section would have a lot of power hiking and the only thing was, my legs left empty. I didn't have any power in them. I slowly made my way up each switch back and just kept moving forward. This was not good. What just happened? I couldn't believe how bad I was feeling. I tried to focus on the smaller picture of just getting to Hobart and not how many miles I had left. But it was hard, I cried some on the way to Hobart. I was struggling. I kept thinking that the calories needed some time to digest and that I would start to feel better. I kept moving forward switch back after every switch back, the process was slow and painful. The sun was no longer out and the storm clouds at any moment would open up. I slowly arrived at Hobart and just looked at the volunteers. The color was gone from my face and I eventually asked for some warm soup. I sat down and pondered what to do. I grabbed my drop bag and ate a waffle and a gel. I also grabbed my light wind breaker. I sat back down, looked at the volunteers and asked about the situation on snow valley. She responded "It hasn't been evacuated yet. But it is cold up there." I said thank you and packed my wind breaker. Before I could stand up a tremendous boom sounded and streak of lightening danced in the sky. The volunteer was again looked at me and said "Well, it is evacuating right now with that." I held my breath and could only think, I am getting ready to head that way into the storm. 

Hobart to Snow Valley:

I left Hobart, not fully recharged, but ready non the less. I was hiking my way into the storm and secretly hoping it wouldn't be that bad. I mean I was only going to 9,250 feet. I deep down knew better and quickly increased my power hike. I didn't know what to expect, but with each step forward the thunder slowly grew. It started as small growl and slowly grew the higher I got. Then the lightening came, it was bright and seemed very close. I would count until I heard the thunder and then another crack only this time it scared me and I screamed. It was close, closer the I ever want to be. The thunder and lightening were really close and there wasn't anything I could do. Then it slowly started to rain, I unpacked my wind breaker and put it on. Just in time as I placed my hood on my head, the hail came down in buckets. I was in a hail storm and each pelt of hail hurt. The lightening was till dancing around me and the thunder was loud. Then it poured buckets of rain and the trail slowly vanished to river. I saw some runners running to tree line. I followed and asked what they are doing as I knew if I stopped hypothermia would set in in these conditions. The guy looked at me and said "Do you want to go to the aid station." I said "yes." He said "Ok, let's do this together as if we stay here we will get hypothermic." I said "Ok" and off we went. I were sprinting on the trail with the thunder and rain. It was raining so loud we could hardly here each other when we spoke. We picked up a few other runners and together we made our way to Snow Valley, which I was pretty sure would be empty and not be a safe place to stay. We crested the last small hill and were completely exposed with the lightening dancing where it choose. We rushed into the tent and were greeted by a volunteer who told us they had to evacuate and that it was best to keep moving as stopping now we were at risk for hypothermia. I quickly drank a ensure thanked the volunteer and started down the river trail. 

Snow Valley To Spooner Lake (mile 50):

My feet by now were killing me. They were completely soaked and freezing from run off. I couldn't keep them out of the puddles/river. The chaffing was even worse now and I was cold, I couldn't feel my hands. Each step on a rock my feet screamed at me. They were tender and sore from being soaking wet. I was suffering, but that is all part of a 100 miler. The question was how much and how long could I suffer. I slowly made my way down to the tree line and here it wasn't as cold, but I was still cold. I knew my crew was probably worried about me as I was off schedule. This 7 miles was longest thus far for me. It was pure torture, each step caused bolts of pain to shot through my body. By far the worst was the chaffing as the rain didn't help me. I slowly made my way down. Eventually I arrived at the lake level and soon I saw Kuni, my pacer and friend. I became emotional in seeing him and quickly told him about snow valley how I had gotten caught out in the storm. He looked at very supportive and said "so you experienced yourself a mini Hardrock." You see Kuni had just completed Hardrock the weekend before and had run in far worse weather then I, so yes, you could say it was a mini Hardrock experience for me. He walked me into the 50 mile aid station and my crew went to work. 

My crew and others trying to keep everything dry including themselves. 

Mile 50:

They rushed soup to me and were just thankful that I had some kind of a jacket in. I told them I was cold, the chaffing was out of control and my feet were killing me. My wife told me to sit down so that she could assess the situation and fix my feet. We took my soak off and she said "oh wow, your feet are water logged." They were so water logged, we couldn't repair the 3 blisters I had. I had a blister on the sole of foot and on both pinky toe. Last year I had blisters in between each toe, so this was far better then last year. The bad part was we couldn't dry my feet out, they tried, they put foot warmers on my feet. I also shared my concern in regards to the chaffing. It was really bad, so bad I could hardly run. I looked at my crew and knew I had a tough decision to make. They could see that I was torn with what needed to happen. I wasn't able to run due to the chaffing and  my feet were water logged. I looked at my wife and told her to turn in my chip. I was pulling the plug here. It was a serious blow to me. I came into mile 50 mentally ready tackle 50 more miles, but with the chaffing and water logged feet, physically I couldn't. The chaffing was/is getting worse and with me just sitting there, I was on fire it hurt that bad. I kept apologizing to my crew and pacers as they had invested so much time and energy to support me all day and through out my training. I felt like a failure and a disappointment. They kept reassuring me that it was ok, that ultimately it was my decision and a tough one at that. To this day, I question myself on that call. But ultimately in the end, there was no way I could have gone on. 

My amazing crew: Be-Well-Run, Trailmomma,and Rachel my wife (we are expecting our first baby)

Well I be there another race this season?........maybe?.............

Thank you to my amazing crew for being there all day and braving the storm. Thank you to my very supportive wife for supporting me through the many long training days, I love you so much. Thank you to my friends and family for believing in me, I may have fallen short, but I am not finished.

Monday, May 26, 2014

Western States Memorial Day Training Run Day 1 (32 Miles)

This weekend was the Western States Memorial Day Training Run. Day 1 consist of 32 miles from Robinson Flat to Foresthill School. This runs would take us through the two most difficult climbs, Devil's Thumb and Michigan Bluff. The temperatures in Sacramento were to reach the upper 90's, which meant it was going to be very warm in the canyons. There are a few aid stations along the way, Dusty corner, Deadwood cemetery, Michigan Bluff and Foresthill.

I have run this year now every year for the past few years. This year just like last year I started early. My friend drove a small group of us to Robinson Flat and we started before the busses arrived. Trailmomma was very excited about this run as I was too. We arrived in Foresthill about 5:45am to check in, use the restroom, and get our gear in order. We jumped into Tina's car and off we went to Robinson Flat. This would be my first time running this section of trail as the trail has been closed due to last year's fire.

Once at Foresthill it was time to get our run on. Today's goal was time on my feet and being smart. Trailmomma and I started off and we power hiked our way to some spectacular views before descending down the single track trail. Today's run would have a lot of ascending and a lot of descending, and the name of the game was don't blow up the quads.

We arrived at Dusty Corners aid station where I refilled my hydration pack as the next section would have a good long descent and and a very tough Devil's thumb climb and it would be about 11 miles until the next aid station. I also grabbed 2 squares of PB&J and off we went. The day was warming up and I have not been able to get much heat training in.

We cruised on the fire road just focusing on the task at hand. We hit the single track and the long descent down to swinging bridge. This year due to the fire we would be crossing the river with the aid of a cable instead of the bridge as the bridge was burned in the fire. I couldn't wait to hit the bottom as the water was going to feel refreshing. I was in the lead with Trailmomma right behind me and a small group of runners about a switch back back. The trail was loose with leaves and the switch backs were pretty tight. As we continued down my foot clipped a rock and I was going down, only I saved the fall at first but then I face planted and my legs kicked up. The downhill momentum wouldn't let me save myself. I was covered in dirt, leaves everywhere, dirt in my mouth and I hear Trailmomma ask "Can I get a picture?" I shouted "NO!" got up as quickly as I could and continued on. My legs were shaky, me head hurt, and I was covered in dirt. As we continued down, I brushed the dirt off and stopped at a creek crossing to clean up and also to cool down. I was pretty frustrated with myself at this point because of the fall. As we continued down, my left knee started to hurt and my left quad was banged up a bit so the descent was taking a lot of of me.

We hit the bottom and made our way to the cable crossing. The river felt very refreshing and came up to our waist. I wasn't very excited about the climb we had coming. Devil's Thumb is a challenging climb, it is steep with a lot of switch backs. During this climb I started to really dip. My energy level plummeted, my leg strength was non existent, I had to stop numerous times, and my legs were shaking. I was in trouble and I knew it. I told Trailmomma to go ahead, but she just looked at me and said "I am good here." She knew I was hurting, she stayed with me and offered encouragement. As we climbed I ran out of water in my pack, I was dry and we still had a ways to go. This was not a good situation to be in. I kept putting on foot in front of the other. Mentally though I was in a all time low, I just wanted to be done. And when I say done I mean done for the day, not just done with this climb. I knew that I needed fuel, and that I had somehow not fueled properly in the miles earlier. I told myself that once we hit the deadwood cemetery, I would spend some time there fueling. We climbed and climbed, I stopped and climbed some more then stopped and climbed some more. We were getting closer to the top, but it just felt like the climb would never end. As we neared the top, I looked at Trailmomma and said "I am out of water." She quickly grabbed "her jugs" and offered them to me. She had 2 small bottles plus her pack, so she had plenty of water. The water tasted great. We finally hit the top of the climb and slowly made our way to the pump and the aid station. I told Trailmomma that I was done, she just chuckled and said "No you are not."

At deadwood aid station (The Pump) the volunteers filled my pack, I enjoyed 2 cups of coke, some chips, half a payday bar, some PB&J and a GU. I also grabbed some GU as the Powergels I had weren't tasting that great. We also soaked our bandannas thanked the volunteers and were on our way. I slowly started to feel better, the leg strength slowly came back and mentally I became focused. On the descent I had to take things slower as my knee was still giving me some issues. We made our way down and with each land mark I knew we were getting closer to the bottom. Once at the bottom I took in another GU as what goes down must go up. We had about a 2.5 mile climb to Michigan Bluff.

This climb I was feeling strong. I kept a nice steady clip and passed a few runners along the way. I was getting pretty excited the closer we got to the top because from there it was only 6 miles and the day would be over. We climbed and climbed and the heat in the canyons was felt by all. I took in a GU as I started to feel my energy level drop. The GU kicked in and we were moving again. We were almost to the top when we saw a runner on the side of trail not looking too well. I asked if there was anything he needed, maybe some salt. He said he didn't have any salt and Trailmomma quickly offered him 2 salt tabs. Then maybe 5 feet in front of us another runner was getting sick on the trail. I looked at him and asked him and his partner if he needed anything, a gel, salt? His running partner said she had 1 gel. He asked for some solid food, Trailmomma again came to the rescue and gave him her gluten free bar. But before we moved on I had a great idea, I looked at Trailmomma and asked "Hey, do you have any ginger chews?" She did and gave each runner a ginger chew to help settle their stomachs. They were both appreciative and as we continued on I joked with Trailmomma about how I gave her fuel away and too be sure she refilled at Michigan bluff in case I needed something. We were nearing the top and I knew. As we popped out and hit the fire road to the aid station I was excited.

We had arrived at Michigan Bluff. Here I again refilled my pack, enjoyed some chips, some coke, a PB&J and  GU before we moved on. Even though we had roughly 6 miles it would be a challenging 6 miles with a scorching sun. It was warm out, we power hiked the long hills, but quickly transitioned into a run during the flats and short hills. We were both moving pretty well and that was good feeling. We hit the single track and took our time as we switch backed it down to the bottom. At the bottom we cooled off in the river before the final climb of the day. This climb would be the shortest, but very  hot as it was exposed. We climbed and ran when we could. Soon we hit the paved road and it was a amazing feeling knowing we were just about back. We kept a nice power hike on Bath Road and made the left turn to the school, where we trotted in with smiles on our faces.

It was a challenging day for me in the canyons. Mentally I had a tough time staying positive, but in the end it was nice to see the perseverance and determination come through. I had many lows and I mean super lows, but I bounced back and kept moving forward. Overall it was a strong mental training run, one with many lessons I shall carry with me into TRT100. I started the day with a smile and I ended the day with a smile and that is what matters. Thanks Trailmomma for your encouragement during the lows and the laughter all day. I can't wait to go back out there.

Sunday, April 13, 2014

American River 50 Mile Race Report 2014

The American River 50 mile endurance run is a local favorite. I enjoy this race for many reasons, but the main reason is that it is local, I can train on the trails, and it is convenient for crew to enjoy. I have been running this race since 2010 and each year brings with it a new adventure and this year wouldn't be any different. Going into this race, I told myself it was a training run as my target race was in July. I was to use this day as time on my feet, to focus on fueling, and not to crack myself.

This year the event started at Brown's Ravine near El Dorado hills and we would run to Folsom and around Lake Natoma before heading back to Auburn. This was a new course which meant new possibilities and I could only wonder what this new course would do to my time.

I knew going into this race that I could a run anywhere between a 9:45 and a 10:15. I have been pretty quiet thus far this season with my training and what races I will be running and what my goal times are. I have been keeping things to myself and focusing on what I know I am capable of running and not allowing any one to influence me or to put doubt into my head. I am staying focused on the bigger picture TRT100.

I arrived at the start with my training partner Trailmomma and my wife Rachel. Rachel would be crewing us this day and I would be picking up my pacer Kuni AKA The Beast at Beals which is mile 24. I had asked Kuni to pace me at TRT100 along with Trailmomma and having him pace me at AR50 would be good before TRT. Trailmomma and I were in wave 1 which started at 6am. We both had lights as it was pretty dark. We lined up and before I knew it we were off for 50 miles of fun. This first mile we were running on pavement, but soon we would hit the fire road and eventually the single track trail which would bring us to Folsom Point where the first aid station would be. Trailmomma was booking it as this was her back yard. I just jumped onto her tail and held on. When we arrived at the levee I said to her "You know you were flying back there? We have 50 miles to go?" She replied calmly and confidently "I know, but this is by back yard and I feel good."

We arrived at Folsom Point on schedule, if not ahead thanks to Trailmomma. We did what we call the clover loop around the parking lot and then we arrived at the aid station. Here I grabbed some PB&J and we left. We weren't there too long. As we were leaving we spot The Beast and he gives us big hugs and we hand off our lights. As I am leaving he looks me in the eyes and says "Take it easy, I will see you at Beals." This stuck with me the rest of my journey.

Now we where on the pavement and we both settled into "our pace" a nice, comfortable pace. We enjoyed the sun rising over the lake and each others company. I could tell Trailmomma was feeling great and mentally in a great spot. I on the other hand was having a few issues, maybe more mental than anything. Did I go out to hard, I am pushing the pace to much. The typically thoughts, ones that can turn a race around. I did my best to bury those thoughts, but once they manifested it was hard to change them. Ohh the doubt has been planted.

The pavement portion was one of my least favorite. Pavement is tough to run on, for me that is. Every step just punishes my body. I can feel it throughout my body. I also knew that it wouldn't be long before we arrived at the second aid station at Willow Creek and not far from that we would hit the trails once again. I focused on my fueling. I was fueling with Perpetum. I started drinking if after mile 5 and had packed 2 small baggies that I was carrying in my pack. Each bottle was roughly 250 calories. I have been fueling with Perpetum for about a year now.

As we neared Willow Creek Trailmomma took off ahead as she needed to use the restroom and as she left she said to me "Wait for me." I arrived at the aid station and took my time, I refilled my bottle with perpetum and enjoyed a PB&J square. I walked out of the aid station and waited. I didn't wait that long for Trailmomma maybe less then a minute and we continued on our way.

We were now making our way to the aquatic center and eventually the bluffs. I always love reaching the bluffs because by this point I am done with the pavement and it is great to use different muscles. As we neared the aquatic center something was off with me. I was very quiet and my eyes were darting here and there. My stomach was gurgling at me and not in the way that says I am hungry. I needed to go, only there wasn't anywhere for me to go. I had to slow my pace as the discomfort was painful. Trailmomma knew something was up and looked at me and asked "Are you ok?" I looked at her and said "No, I have to go." The aquatic center came and went and now we were slowly making our way to the bluffs. We crested the top of the bluffs and for a split second I contemplated ducking behind the cars and going, but soon realized that wasn't a good idea as it was to exposed. We started down and I darted ahead and at the bottom, I darted off onto a side trail and went.

Trailmomma waited for me and we were on our way. I felt better, but not great. My stomach was still upset but at least I had some peep back in my step. We took off toward Main bar. Here I filled my pack, and enjoyed a quarter banana and grabbed a small mojo bar. This next section takes up to the bluffs and some nice single track trail. We kept a comfortable pace, ok maybe I was running a bit slow here. I didn't have much in my tank, though I had been fueling. I knew that I needed to settle down and relax, this was just a low and that it would pass. There was till plenty of race left. Trailmomma and I cruised along and as we hit the bluffs I told her "I have to go again! I think it is the perpetum, I am going to stop drinking it and switch to coke." I knew something had to change. Something that I was doing was causing this issue and I couldn't continue this race doing the same thing, but expecting a different result. I made a choice, right there and then. I was going to stop drinking the perpetum.

Trailmomma took off ahead as I once again had to use the restroom. She told me she would wait for me at the next aid station. I arrived and mentally I was defeated. I knew I couldn't keep going if I was going to be using the restroom every 20 minutes. But I also knew that my system needed to reset and my secret weapon was my wife, Rachel was waiting for me at Beals point along with my pacer The Beast and Dasie. I had to keep going, but all I could think about was how bad I felt. As soon as I arrived at the aid station Trailmomma went to action. She grabbed my bottle and rinsed it out and put coke it in. She had me moving again telling me "Rachel was at Beals. Let's Go."

Trailmomma was feeling like a million bucks and I just kept thinking I am slowing her down. I told her to go ahead, I had to let her go. It was tough watching her run and I did everything I could to muster a slow shuffle, but once again I had to use the bathroom. Ugh this is not good. I had one final hill before the small descent into Beals. I rounded the corner and shuffled under the arch and then transitioned to a walk. I saw Dasie and she walked me to Rachel. The Beast was smiling and said something that made me laugh. My crew went to work getting me ready for the next half. I told them I was drinking coke, they knew I was sick and that I had been dry heaving. Trailmomma gave me some tums. I drank a ensure and then I managed to get a gel down. I slowly ate some banana while Rachel cleaned out my pack and replaced my gels. I looked at The Beast and said, "We should start walking." The three of us started walking. I was ready, but was I ready? I looked at The Beast and told him "I have to use the restroom" and I sprinted for the bathroom. Trailmomma told The Beast, "you guys will catch me ok." I was in the restroom for a bit about 5-7 minutes. After that I felt a lot better, like everything had been reset. I am hoping this is the end of the runs for me today.

The Beast and I hit the levee and slowly ever so slowly my pace starts to quicken. I have a new pair of legs a new energy about me and I want to capitalize on this energy. We hit the single track trail and I am in full gear, I am focused and thinking clearly. I start to pass runners and when I pass them I am light on my feet. I am back and ready to take this day this race back. But first I need to catch Trailmomma.

We hit the fire road at cavitt and we are cruising, The Beast is telling me to hike this and run that, not to hard here, how about you drink some coke, a salt maybe. He is doing everything right and I am listening and following direction. Soon we hit the single track trail and at first I am moving conservatively, but then within a blink of an eye I take off. I accelerated so fast, I don't know what happened, but it feels good. I open up a bit more and we are flying. We are passing runner after runner and I am looking strong. I don't feel like I have 25 miles in my legs but rather I am just beginning my day. I challenge myself to hold this pace, now open it up some more. I do. Then I see the blue shirt and I can't believe my eyes and under my breath I say "No way." Up ahead is Trailmomma. I caught Trailmomma. As I near I shout out "Hey, hey, hey." She looks back stunned, surprised and excited like she can't believe her eyes. She jumps aside and so does the group she is running with and I pass. As I pass she hooks on to us and once again we are together. I caught her just outside the granit bay aid station. Together our pace increases and I hear her ask The Beast "What did you do? And can you do that to me?" We are passing runner after runner. Up ahead I can see Rachel, she had surprised me by being at Granit bay. I fly past and she knows I am back.

At the aid station Dasie is waiting for us. I drink some soup and take in a gel and tell Dasie "Let my wife I know that I love her." I am alive and feeling great. We exit the aid station, the three of us, me in the lead followed by The Beast and then Trailmomma. This next section takes us onto part of the mountain bike course, which I didn't like at all. We were slowed down by conga lines and there wasn't much room to pass on top of having to look out for mountain bikes, it was not fun. When I saw an opening I would take it. I would see another opening and take it. The Beast was my eyes for bikes as I was focused on finding an opening and passing. After about 2.5 miles of this loop we were back on the course I knew. We were all three still together which was a amazing feeling.

On our way to buzzards cove there was a lot of congestion, which really slowed us down. There wasn't anywhere to pass and the line was long. Here I was getting really frustrated as I was feeling strong and wanting to move only I couldn't. I kept looking at my watch, which frustrated me even more because I was losing time. I wanted by, we passed when we could, but I knew we would have to make our move at Buzzards cove. In the meantime The Beast had me on a gel an hour and a salt an hour and he would have me sip the coke from time to time. This fueling was working. I was feeling good.

Buzzard cove was approaching and behind me The Beast says "You going to eat some ice cream?" This aid station is known for the ice cream. I have never had the ice cream. I still had my wits about me and replied "Ohh so this is the real reason you agreed to pace me. For the ice cream." We all chuckled and when we arrived The Beast had some ice cream. We were in and out and finally had some room to play with on the trail and I took advantage of that. We were on our way to horseshoe bar.

I was still feeling great and made up some time, only to run right back into another conga line. Like before there was nothing I could do. I threw my arms up in the air in frustration as we were having to walk. I told myself to calm down, take this as a time to reenergize and refocus. I knew that there would be an opening up ahead where the trail widens and when  I came to section I took off like my tail was on fire. I accelerated so fast I was passing runners on their left, their right letting them know I was there. They were trying to stay dry as this section was a mud pit. I took a chance and plunged through the mud and water. I looked back and saw The Beasts was with me, but I didn't see Trailmomma. Crap.....Crap....Crap....we had lost Trailmomma. I knew she would catch up and I pressed on. But every chance I had I looked back to see if that blue shirt was approaching.

The Beast and I were flying again. We arrived at horseshoe bar and I took in a gel and quickly made my way to water bucket. I was hot and needed to cool down. The Beast followed me and helped cool me off. I screamed and hyperventilated. The Beast had a huge smile on his face and I was smilling as well. The cool water felt great. As The Beast continued to cool me I looked back and shouted "TRAILMOMMA!!! OVER HERE" she had caught up to us. She looked at us perplexed (I can only imagine how that image looked) and said "I fell." I ushered her over to the water bucket and The Beast and I cooled her off and cleaned up her bloody knee. I told her it was 2.2 to rattlesnake and we took off.

2.2 until I see my wife and crew again and then about 10 miles to finish. I can totally do this. I checked my watch and I was within my goal time, but I wasn't going to be able to settle. I would need to continue to push myself, I would have to run on the fine line of cracking if I was going to make my goal time.

The Beast and I were moving well during this section. He was monitoring my fueling and allowed me to dictate the pace. He took the lead for a bit which was great as it allowed me to relax my mind and recharge. I took the lead back and kept focused. We were getting near and as we neared I could feel the aid station energy. I heard some music and then realized that what was playing was a song we played at our wedding and that energized me some more. "It's a beautiful night, I think I want to marry you!!!!! I think I want to marry you!!!!! Yup that played through my head and the memories of our wedding energized me some more. My love was waiting for me, she was supporting me no matter what, I can't wait to see her!

I arrived at Rattlesnake after a gnarly descent and my crew immediately went to work. I was feeling strong and focused. My wife Rachel puts a banana in front me and I just look at it. She looks at me and back at the banana and I take the banana and start to eat it. Yup my super food on this run was bananas. I then make my way to water bucket because I am hot. Dasie has my pack and is refilling it. I get cooled down and Dasie makes me a ice scarf out of my bandana around my neck. I cooled down and ready for the final part. I look at Rachel and say "I love you, and ohh yeah I heard our song." She just chuckled at me. The Beast and I are ready. Trailmomma flies in just as we are leaving. I knew she would be fine as here she was picking up her pacer.

The Beast and I took off, I hear as I am leaving "You own this Pigeon." I power hiked the hill passing some runners and then it is game on. Again we are moving and I am doing the math in my head and know it is possible to achieve if I believe. It is going to be close. The Beast continues to monitor my fueling and salt intake which is great because that is one thing I don't have to think about. All I need to think about is moving forward and catching that next runner. The next aid station is coming and The Beast tells me "You don't need anything, maybe a gel, something light that is all." We are in and out and our way. Only a few more miles. Keep moving, don't slow down. I keep passing runners and I make it a priority that once I pass a runner they can not pass me. It is a fun game to keep my mind occupied and to give me a edge, a reason to push a bit harder each time we pass a runner. Then I see it, the Damn Hill. 3 miles to go.

I am focused, we transition into a power hike and my power hike is strong as we are passing runners. It feels great to be this close to the finish and have life in my legs. Keep pushing, don't slow down. Ok we can run now and run we do. The mental talk in my head was fascinating. Run, run a bit more now power hike. I matched the The Beast power hike and had him pull me a bit. Last Gasp was near. So close keep moving. We hit last Gasp and I again cool down with the water bucket and then we push on. Running here and running there. Passing and hiking now running again. 1 more mile, "push it" I hear The Beast say and push it I do. One final hill and The Beast has me run all of it. He wont let me settle, oh the pain it hurts I am right there on the red line, the pain, but push on I do. We crest the hill and make the right turn the final little hill and then the grass. I hear the crowds, I hear my name so close keep going. Push it!!!!! I see the clock and I am so close I find another gear and cross in 10:15ish. I did it.

Rachel is waiting for me and as soon as I stop moving I immediately start to cramp. My hamstrings, my calves everything is screaming at me, but I don't care. I finished and I finished within my projected goal time. Who would have thought that would have happened with the way my first 24 miles went. I turned things around the last 26 miles. I didn't do it alone though. I had the aid and support of a amazing running partner, Trailmomma. The amazing support and sacrifice of my wife Rachel. The best crew and pacer in town with Dasie and Kuni The Beast. Thank you all for your support and drive and compassion throughout the day. Trailmomma thank you for your help all day, you turned my day around.

I completed the AR50 miler. I learned a lot during this journey. I learned even more about myself.

In the days since AR50, I have recovered well. I didn't get any blisters during this event which is amazing. I was a bit sore, but walking fine on Sunday which was a goal of mine. I took the week off from training one to recover and two because I developed a very bad cold on Tuesday that had me in bed for a few days. In the weeks to come I have a race on April 27, a trail marathon that I will be using as a training run. Then things start to really ramp up in my build toward TRT 100 in July.

Believe and you will Achieve

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Way Too Cool 50k Race Report 2014

This past weekend weekend was my first race of 2014, or I should say training run as I knew going into this event I was not focused on a PR (personal record). I was focused on seeing where my fitness was and I didn't want to break myself, I wanted to a run a smart race a hard race, but also a race where the following the day I would be able to run.

Going into race day I was a bit nervous, as my last long run which was suppose to be 26 miles ended up only being 19 miles as I had fallen and was pretty bruised and bloody. That meant my longest run going into Cool was 22 miles. I had a few goals going into this run, my first goal was to run a 5:45 as I figured my fitness was around this time goal. Second goal was to get Trailmomma a PR as we would be running most if not all of this race together.

Now let's fast forward to the race day. It was going to be a beautiful day. Trailmomma and I lined up in the middle of wave 1. I was excited as you could feel the energy coming from the crowd. I was also nervous because I knew with the amount of runners in the race that there were sure to be some conga lines along the single track trail and I told myself to use it my advantage. The one thing I really didn't think about and probably should have was all the mud as it had rained the week prior and it would be pretty muddy out there.

The first 8 miles take us down the haul road before we reached the fire road and our first stream crossing at Knickerbocker creek. I knew from past experiences to go wide left as there is congestion with a lot of runners using the rocks so as not to get their feet wet. I went left and quickly passed runners. I hit the single track and sure enough the conga line had us stopped in our tracks. I was a bit upset as this section of trail was very runnable, but with all the runners I wasn't going anywhere fast. I settled down and just went with the flow. I knew that I didn't want to spend a lot of energy trying to pass as there was a lot of miles left so I relaxed and got comfortable and soon enough the congo line would run for a bit and then come to a screeching halt. Bust soon we hit the fire road which gave plenty of room for others to pass and or be passed. Eventually we arrived back at the Start/Finish and it was here that I exchanged my hand held for a fresh handheld as my wife Rachel was waiting for me. At the aid station I enjoyed 2 bananas and was on my way as the next aid station at Lower Quarry was only 3 miles away.

As Trailmomma and I started the descent my stomach started to knot up. I had to use the bathroom. I love this downhill section, I like to open it up and let the trail take me only I wasn't able to as my stomach was really bothering me. I managed to peel off and as I did I yelled to Trailmomma that I would catch up, she kept going and I made a necessary pit stop in the bushes. After my much needed pit stop I felt so much better. I quickly hit the trail and let it open up. I was probably doing sub 8 on this section. I made it to the HWY 49 crossing and spot Trailmomma at the port-o-potty. I shouted to her that she can catch me on the fire road as it isn't my favorite section. I hit the aid station and filled my hydration pack, grabbed some bananas and some granola bars and was back on the fire road where to my surprise Trailmomma was right by my side. We set a nice and steady pace for ourselves and hiked the large hills and ran everything else.

Our next aid station was Maine Bar which was 5.6 miles away and at mile 16.7. I was fueling with prepetuem in my handheld and relying on the solid food as I really wanted to see how my body would react with solid food as I haven't been enjoying gels. Trailmomma and I plugged away and soon enough the aid station appeared, only it was at mile 15 which now meant we had 6 miles to Auburn Lake Trails (ALT) instead of 5 miles. At this express station I again grabbed some granola bars as those were tasting really good.

I knew that this next section had some climbing and that I needed to stay focused. Trailmomma and I had a nice rhythm going, and my legs during the climbs felt very strong and I could keep a nice strong cadence. We would run and hike run and hike. I was feeling pretty good but slowly I could feel my energy level slowly dropping. I didn't take a gel in and in hindsight I should have. I was trying to wait until the Aid Station. I hit the climb to third gate and plugged away at it, again keeping a nice strong cadence and pushing myself a bit on this climb. It was after this climb that I really wanted that aid station to appear. Only it didn't and I started to get a bit angry. I should have taken in a gel, or something as I knew I needed some fuel. I kept plugging away and eventually we arrived at the aid station.

At ALT aid station, I took in some food as well as refilled my handheld with perpetuem and took in some more food. Trailmomma and I took off and walked a bit so that we could finish what we were eating. I knew that this next section was very runnable and I had been looking forward to to it all day. This section would just take you if you let it and you could really pick off some runners. Only that wasn't the case for me. I tried to increase my pace, but it wouldn't happen. I would like to think I managed a nice steady clip. I just kept plugging away. We were nearing goat hill and that was all that I was focused on. Get to goat hill and from there only 5 more miles. But I was really low on energy and I knew I needed to do something about it. At the initial climb to goat hill I took in a gel. Then I took in another gel. And my energy came back to me.

Trailmomma and I hit goat hill and I was feeling really good. My legs felt strong and I just put my head down and power hiked up the hill. We climbed goat hill in 9 minutes with the conga line. At the top of goat hill I was pumped. I quickly filled up my hand held with what Trailmomma calls "crack"...which is actually coke and looked at her and we took off. I was on top of the world. I hit the descent and shouted to her that this was very runnable. We took off.

We were now on our way to HWY 49 crossing. We were slowly passing runners and picking off runners who had passed us on the section to goat hill. At one point though I started to dry heave, it didn't slow me down I kept right on running. I was probably a bit dehydrated when that happened. Trailmomma was really funny and wanted nothing to do with it. (Note to self for when she paces me at TRT.)

I saw the grandpa tree sign and knew we  had 4 miles to the finish. I also looked at my watch and knew that a 5:45 was out of the question but that Trailmomma could still PR. So I did what any good friend would do, I pushed the pace. I encouraged us to run a bit more of the hills and to power hike quicker. I'm not sure if Trailmomma was cursing at me, but if she was she didn't tell me.

We hit the 49 crossing and I filled my hand held with more coke and took off. I had us running the hill longer then I normally would have. I was focused on Trailmomma's PR. Then I transitioned us to a power hike and kept shouting encouragement to Trailmomma. I think other runners thought it was obnoxious, but who cares. I was energizing myself and had my eye on the goal. My legs were feeling great and really strong on the hikes. We had 1 mile to go and I pushed the pace even more, telling Trailmomma to run up and over this hill and you look good, nice and strong. Now only .5 to go. We hit the home stretch and I told Trailmomma "Let's open up." Trailmomma did. I knew we had more to give so I said "Push a bit more, pass those 2 girls."   and she did, then Trailmomma said "This is good enough", but when I heard that I said "Push some more." and she did. One final hill, and I told her "Up and over, keep going, push it." And we did. Then Trailmomma turned on her fuel jets and sprinted. Luckily I saw the acceleration and matched her foot step for foot step. I pumped the crowed up and the crowd yelled louder.

We crossed the finish together and I threw my arms in the air. We crossed in 6:14:09. A new PR for Trailmomma. I was proud of her, proud of how she pushed. I was pretty happy with my time, considering that my last long run was 19 miles. I ran within my ability. I pushed myself on the climbs and I pushed myself those last 5 miles to see what was left in the tank. Honestly when I finished I felt really good physically. This wasn't my target race, and I kept my eye on the ultimate goal TRT100.

As for how I thought my fueling was, I could have used a few more calories. Obviously that was a given. I did enjoy not having as many gels, but I needed a bit more solid food. That I can work on. I never got sick of the solid food. I took in a lot of salt, about 2 an hour as it was warm. I should have had more water as I was a bit dehydrated at the end. The perpetuem I got sick of. I think it was having the same flavor and consistency. Overall I learned a lot and that was what I was looking for. I ran a smart race. I ran within my fitness which was great and I was able to run a solid recovery run on Sunday.

Now to focus on AR50 as again this will be a training run for me.

Thank you to the volunteers who were out there all day and to my wife who has supported me from the beginning. You believe in me which makes me believe in  myself. Thank you to Trailmomma for all the training runs and for being my running partner. We have laughed, we have cried, but most off all we have fun each time we hit the trail.

Believe and You will Achieve

Sunday, February 2, 2014

2 Loops of Fun

Yesterday on my running schedule was 22 miles. Trailmomma and I decided that a few loops would be best for our long run. One of the cool things about doing loops is the aid station at the car, which also means we didn't have to carry as much water and fuel, only enough for each loop. I enjoy doing loops every now and than as it makes my long runs not seem so overwhelming.

Trailmomma and I met up and carpooled to the base of stagecoach as this would be our starting point and mini aid station. I was excited about today's run because I was going to be showing Trailmomma some new trails that I had been running on since last summer.

We had and early start of 7am which meant it was cold out so cold that when we started we pretty much were sprinting and didn't realize it for bit until we both sort of looked at each other and said it seems we are running rather fast. We ended slowing down knowing we had plenty of miles left. Our first loop I was taking us on was the Clementine loop. This loop has some climbing which was going to be our theme for the day. Lot's of climbing. It is a pretty tame loop, nothing to technical but it does have a nice steady climb at the beginning which we would run and then power hike run some more and power hike some more. I was focused on my power hike and noticed that my legs were responding really well and felt strong. Must be the previous weeks worth of hill repeats.

We hit the green gate and I told her now we are going down, as I wanted to show her the boat launching area and the Clementine lake. Once at the lake I took a quick restroom stop, and Trailmomma took some photos and then we were off to start our second climb of the day. Again we tackled it like before, run some power hike some. This climb has a nice gentle grade and is very runnable. I even took the time to point out where we had been. I always enjoy doing that, just to get a different look on things. Instead of looking at how far I have to go, I look at it like wow, look how far we/I have come (or climbed) or whatever the case the may be. I seem to do it every run, I will stop at a random spot and point out over the horizon where we just came from and it blows my mind some time.

At the top of the climb we hit the descent we took the short cut trail this time as there are many options available. The descent was nice and smooth and my legs were feeling great. I was fueling with a handheld of perpetuem and I had a packed some gels and salt and my hydration pack of water. The single track trail brought us into the sun light and warmed us up. The sun felt really nice. We arrived back at the car in no time and quickly grabbed a snack, filled our bottles, used the restroom, and took off our long sleeves and we were off for loop #2.

This time we were going up stagecoach, which is also very runnable. Again, I found my legs were responding really well with the climbing. There was only one mishap when a mountain biker came flying around the corner, I was on the left side of the trail and trailmomma was on the right. I looked up and just about froze, well I did freez but quickly regained my composer and ran over to the right side of the trail just in time as the mountain biker flew past us. Trailmomma and I both laughed about this for a bit. In fact most of the day we were laughing and in really good spirits.

We hit the top of stage coach and made our way through town and over to the overlook where we would hit the single track trail and on over to No Hands Bridge. The descent felt great, again my legs were feeling strong, I was fueling properly and most importunely I was having a great time on the trail.

We arrived at No Hands in no time and from there we decided to climb K2. Which is a pretty steep climb. We started climbing and my legs felt strong. I quickened my pace and kept things lively. I joked about each false summit as we arrived, I even started singing and once on top just let out a taadaaaa. I was feeling great.

We took the Western States Trail back down to No Hands Bridge crossed the bridge and ran the trail along the road to the base of stage coach. 21 miles never felt so good. I am liking where my fitness is. My legs are getting stronger each week and my mind is getting focused as well. I have my eyes on the big picture called Redemption and I can't wait to get there in July Tahoe Rim Trail 100.

It was a great day on the trail for us both and I can't wait to do it again.

-Fruit and Spinach and Flax Seed Smoothie when I woke up (I wake up really early due to work 2:30am)
-Oatmeal and blueberries for breakfast about 1.5 hours before the start
-Banana at the start
-2 bottles of pertuem, one on the first loop and one on the second loop
-1 Mojo bar at the aid station

I found it interesting that I didn't take in any gels or salt, I felt a steady flow of energy during my entire run.

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Missouri Trip

The past week and half has been very busy in the Pigeon household. My wife and I had to fly out to Missouri   last minute on New Years Eve. I have never been to Missouri, but I knew and was told many times that it was going to be cold, very cold. It was pretty stressful getting ready for the trip, luckily our friend was able to dog/house sit for us as we do not ever want to board our boys in a kennel. My wife found the airline tickets, rental car, and hotel and booked them 2 days prior to our departure.

Our flight out of Sacramento was delayed about 20 minutes, we were flying into Salt Lake City and had a connecting flight that originally would give us a 40 minute layover. We arrived at Salt Lake City and grabbed our things and took off running to our connecting flight. We ran so fast, it was like a impromptu speed work at the track. We ran to our gate with minutes to spare. I think we were close to the last passengers on the flight. But we made it as I didn't want to be stuck in the airport all night.

We arrived in Missouri later that evening and before leaving the baggage claim to get our rental car my wife had me bundle up, jacket and gloves and she made me put my hood on. It was cold, but this wouldn't be the coldest day, in fact it might have been the warmest day. While in Missouri we spent a lot of time with her family. I met a lot of family I have never met before. One day we drove over to her parents house which was about 3 hours away from our hotel. We spent  most of the day/evening there and left just before dark. There was a snow storm coming in, which if you lived in Missouri you would call it "A light dusting." The interstate was down to 1 lane and we were driving 30 miles an hour at one point. I was scared that we were going to slid off the road, get sandwiched between the other cars. We eventually arrived home but it took about 4 hours of stressful and painfully slow driving to get home.

As the week drew near we started watching this massive storm come our way, hit Missouri and then continue onto the East Coast. This storm canceled thousands of flights and delayed thousands of flights as well. We knew that there was a possibility of our flight leaving Kansas City could get delayed (Which it did) and also the possibility of our connecting flight in Denver being delayed or cancelled overall.

We left Kansas City late which meant that we were going to have to hussle to our connecting flight in Denver. Once on the plane we were waiting for our pilots arrive as they were coming from the East Coast and once again we were delayed roughly 20 minutes. We left and settled in for the flight. We arrived in Denver with no time to spare. We had 5 minutes to get to our connecting flight which was all the way at the other end, and the bad news was we were last passengers off the plane. We took off running, using the moving sidewalks so we could cover more ground faster. Rachel told me to run ahead so I did. I ran my little heart out. I neared the gate at the end of the terminal and looked out the window and I could see our plane. Only it was slowly ever so slowly backing away. The gate agent apologized saying they couldn't hold the plan as they needed to get the planes back on schedule. I had arrived exactly at 7:55pm right when our plane was due to depart. Really, you couldn't hold the plan. There were at leases 8 passengers on our flight and numerous other passengers that were heading to Sacramento. Agh, frustration sets in.

Now we have to walk all the way back to customer service to try and get on a different flight. The line at the customer service counter was long. It took us 4 hours to get to the ticket counter. And guess what? There were no flights leaving Denver that evening. We were stuck in Denver. Also, the hotels were booked so we were sleeping in the air port.

We were really tired by now. While waiting in line at customer service I made some calls to make sure our boys (dogs) were taken care of, as our dog sitter was leaving town the next day for New York. Luckily my brother in law was helping us out. Rachel and I found a corner near the terminal where our flight we were flying stand by on would leave and tried to get some sleep. I was unable to get comfortable and I think I managed 2 hours of sleep sitting in the chair, while Rachel was out like a light as soon as her head hit the suitcase.

In the morning we checked in as stand by passengers on the early flight and luck was on our side. We were able to get on the flight. We finally arrived in Sacramento after a long 2 days of traveling.

It felt good to be home again and our boys were super excited to see us. I am glad that I was able to make the trip with my wife. I learned a lot about her grandmother. Even though she is no longer with us and I never had the opportunity to meet her, I know that  she will always be looking over us and is apart of us to this day. If you were to describe Rachel's grandma in one word....that word would be perseverance. When I heard that I smiled as I have a tattoo on my left arm that says perseverance. She will always be with us, and right now she is with my mom looking out for us and smiling.