Thursday, May 2, 2013

It's been a long time since my last running blog update. Unfortunately there hasn't been much to write about on the running front over the last few months. For better or worse I now have something to write about.

After my 100 mile mountain race last fall (The Bear 100) I had quite a bit of outside left knee pain that was very slow in healing (IT Band inflammation). I took it very easy for quite some time and was slowly recovering. Then one day in late January while at the gym I was having some of the old knee pain flare up again so I decided to ride a stationary bike for a bit to get some good cardio work in. I had only been riding for a few minutes when I could tell something was very wrong. I got off the bike and had a horrible pain in the inside of my left knee. This was something completely new. I've never had pain on the inside before and whoever heard of hurting your knee riding a stationary bike? As I look back I am guessing that I had probably already done the injury and for some reason the motion of riding a bike put it over the top and made it manifest itself.

After waiting for 6 weeks to see if it would heal, it became obvious I needed to go see a doctor. Of course you can't get in to see a doctor for 3 weeks. After X-Rays and knee manipulation the doctor determined that I probably had a torn meniscus. Surgery scheduled out another 3+ weeks.

Finally on Wednesday April 24th I went in for arthroscopic knee surgery. It wasn't too bad. I didn't have too much pain after the surgery. I only took prescription pain meds for 24 hours and then Ibuprofen for another 24 hours. After 4 days I was no longer limping and doing stairs just fine. Today, 8 days later, I went in for my surgery follow up.

Bottom line - Torn meniscus, fraying cartilage, and lot's of fuzzy stuff on back of the knee cap (sorry don't know the technical term), all repaired or simply cut out. It is amazing the things they can do through 3 little holes.

Recovery time - I am able to walk just fine now with no limp. I can continue to increase my walking as much as pain will allow. In a week or so I can begin to do weights and resistance exercises with very little weight and resistance, increasing as pain allows. In 4 weeks I can begin impact exercises, running very slow and easy to start and increasing as my knee allows

After I'm recovered the doctor said that if I didn't want to have knee replacement surgery down the road I should probably not run a 100 mile race again........what a quack! Seriously though, I will be very careful with my recovery and think long and hard about my future in running Ultra Marathons as I evaluate how my knee is holding up to the activities that I do. The challenge is that I still have 2 remaining "Bucket List" items that involve running ultras. With that being said, if I have to give it up I am at peace with that. The doctor said I can hike to my hearts content and the fact of the matter is that my love for being in the mountains is even greater than my passion for Ultra running.

As of right now I withdrew from the Antelope Island Buffalo Run 50 Miler in March (I did work at an aid station for this run and my company provided lighting to the main tent and aid stations for the 100 mile race). I have also had to withdraw from the Squaw Peak 50 Mile race on June 1st. I will also withdraw from the Speedgoat 50K the end of July. My only hope for running a significant race this year is The Bear 100 in late September. If I can get back to 100% by mid September I will run it. I need to run a qualifying race this year in order to accomplish one of my bucket list items and the Bear 100 is a qualifying race.

In order for me to have any chance of making this happen I have to lose some weight......................... a lot of weight! Last year I weighed exactly 199.6 pounds when I ran the Bear. With me not being able to exercise much over the last several months, and eating everything in sight, I am back up to 220. I believe that I have to be down to a maximum of 180 in order to make my attempt at the Bear this year. I would like to see 170 but I will take it one step at a time and see how it goes. 2 things have to happen in order for me to hit my weight goal. Both of these items have historically been extremely difficult for me to overcome. First, I have to quit eating anything and everything. I love food. I look forward to food, I crave food. I have to get over it! Second, I need to break off my 25+ year love affair .................. with Diet Coke. I have been a hard core Diet Coke drinker for most of my adult life. When I say hard core I mean that it has generally replaced water in my diet. I drink way more than a gallon a day, everyday. I can tell you from experience that no matter how hard you try you cannot drink all of the Diet Coke out there, it just isn't possible. I am not saying that I won't ever have one again. But I am saying that I think I will have to limit it to maybe once or twice a month on a special occasion (Nothing goes with a really good steak like Diet Coke).

I will update my progress, or lack thereof, frequently. This blog will be my space for holding myself accountable for doing what I need to do in order to complete my goals, both short term and long term.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Bear 100 Race Recap

Two years ago after pacing for my son Josh at the Wasatch 100 he challenged me to run a 100 mile race. He knew I had paced for someone almost two decades ago and that I had talked about running one someday. I'm not getting any younger, and as a result I accepted the challenge and have spent the last two years training for this 100 mile event.
Friday September 28th at 6:00 am began my first attempt at a 100 mile mountain race. The Bear 100 takes place in the beautiful mountains starting in Logan, Utah and finishing in Fish Haven, Idaho on the banks of Bear Lake. The course boasts just shy of 22,000 feet of elevation gain and 21,000 feet of elevation descent over the 100 mile course. It was a beautiful calm morning and although it was cool, it was not as cool as I would have liked it. The temperature was in the low 50's which meant that it would get into the mid 70's during the day. I was hoping for a day about 10 degrees cooler than that. Heat is my enemy when I run, I typically don't do well with it. Hydration would be key for the day, along with nutrition, patience, persistence, and a positive mental attitude which are always major factors. After looking through all of the information available and trying to put a realistic expectation on my abilities, I thought this run would take me between 32 and 34 hours. This race has a maximum time allocation of 36 hours.

The first 10 miles of the race is uphill and I took it very easy. I knew it was a long race and I didn't want to use all my energy in the first 10% of the race. After hitting 10 miles there is a long downhill, which felt great. I got into a rhythm and really felt good. At the 20 mile mark I got to see Brenda and Josh (my crew) for the first time. They had a chair set up and my gear there so I could get what I needed quickly and move on. They would be able to crew me at nine locations throughout the race.
The next 10 mile section has a lot of climbing. I was more deliberate in my climbing and ran the downhill sections. In this section it started to get hot and would stay hot until about 7:00 pm. This is the first time that I realized I was out-climbing everyone. No one passed me on the uphills, I was better prepared than I thought I might be. For the remainder of the hot period I just consistently plugged along, doing well on the climbs but very average on the flat and downhill.
At about 35 miles my left knee started to hurt. I had the same pain back in March when I ran the Buffalo Run 50 Miler. I knew it was not going to go away. I had to figure out how I was going to finish this race with a knee that would not allow me to run downhill at all and that I knew would get worse as the day wore on and I would not be able to run the flat areas either. If I was going to get through this I had to hit the climbs very hard as my knee didn't hurt at all on the uphill, and walk at a crazy pace the flat and downhill areas.

Up until I got to the Tony Grove aid station, 51 miles, I was passing runners like crazy on the uphills. This would be the theme for the race as I never had anyone pass me on an uphill. I was making up good time now. I had been about 45 minutes behind my schedule for finishing at 32 hours at the 45 mile mark. I was now less than 10 minutes behind on my schedule.

At Tony Grove I picked up Josh to pace with me the rest of the way. We would spend the next 11 hours in the dark with headlamps lighting the way. We went from Tony grove at a very fast pace, once again passing runners on uphills but surprisingly not getting passed on the downhills. We were now gaining time on my schedule of 32 hours.
When I made my schedule, I looked at the last couple of years results to see the times for the runners who finished in the time frame I was anticipating I would finish. I then calculated my anticipated split times from those results. I knew from being involved with several of these events that runners really start to fade in the last 40 or so miles, and especially in the last 25 miles. At this point I still felt very good. I was not tired, I was not fatigued, so I just kept pounding the pace.

A couple of aid stations later I was more than an hour ahead of pace. Josh and I did some calculations and figured I might have a chance of getting in at under 30 hours if I could continue with the current pace. This was a huge motivation for me as 100 mile races typically have 3 different finishing classifications or award levels. The first is under 24 hours, the second from 24 to 30 hours and the last is 30 to 36 hours. If I could finish under 30 hours I would be in a different award class than what I ever thought possible. When we came into the next aid station it was now light. I told Brenda to forget about meeting us at the last aid station and go call the kids and let them know that I was going to be in by noon. They needed to come now as they were definitely not planning on being to the finish until about 2:00. I didn't want them to drive three hours to find out that I had finished a couple of hours earlier. Brenda said she thought she could get to the highway, find cell service, make the calls, and get back in time to help us at the last aid station.

We went into the last aid station which is at 92.2 miles. I was now getting tired and my knee was now screaming at me all the time. Brenda was concerned at this station as I was not in as good of shape as she had hoped. But I was still very focused and bent on getting in under 30 hours. I took some Ibuprofen, talked to Brenda (found out she had contacted the kids), pounded down some Coke, cookies, M&M's and potato chips, and we were off for the final section.
The final section has a very steep uphill coming out of the aid station for about a mile. It is then followed by a very steep four mile section of rocky downhill. I paced Josh through this section last year so I was familiar with it. The uphill was good, again passing several runners. Now the downhill. My knee was on fire! I went as fast as I possibly could but had multiple runners pass me on this section. With about 2.5 miles to go Josh let me know that we were going to make it under the 30 hours. At that point I eased up a bit until we got to the last mile which is flat. Once we hit the flat I walked fast for almost a half mile to let my knee recover a bit. I wanted to make sure I could run into the finish. I started running again just before the bend in the road. At that point you can see the main highway and there are people who can see you.
As we came around the corner I could hear my kids screaming. It was awesome! Coming around the turn onto the main road and then into the last 75 yards into the yard where the finish line is I was overwhelmed. My heart was full and I was holding back the tears. Before Josh peeled off about 30 yards before the finish line he said "You did it Dad, great job!" I couldn't say a single word back to him as I was on the verge of crying. Thankfully I did manage to keep it pretty much together as I crossed the finish line. The last thing you want is a bunch of pictures of you balling your eyes out.
My official time was 29 hours, 49 minutes, 18 seconds. I came in 83rd place out of 165 finishers right square in the middle of the runners. There were 230 runners that started the race, 65 either dropped out or did not finish under the 36 hour limit. In my age group for men I finished 12th out of 26. Even after being very diligent and disciplined in training I never imagined I could finish under 30 hours. I truly feel like I won the race! I far exceeded what I ever thought I could possibly do.
This course is absolutely beautiful. The fall foliage was beyond spectacular. The people volunteering at all of the aid stations were extremely helpful and friendly. The race was very well organized and the course well marked.
I have to thank my family. I never could have done this without Josh helping me over the last couple of years. He was a completely awesome pacer, keeping me focused during the race, especially during the sections when I was in tremendous pain. His experience in running three 100 mile races really helped me. My family has been very supportive during this entire process and although they often question my sanity they have remained supportive. Mostly I could not have done this without Brenda. She always supported me when I went up in the mountains to run at least twice a week and at least 3 times a week on the road in the early mornings. Most of my Saturdays over the last couple of years and especially the last six months have been taken up with running. I was rarely home before 1:00 or 2:00 p.m. on most Saturday's. After the long day running I rarely was in the mood to do yard work or most anything. My back yard looks worse today than it has in the 18 years I've lived in my house. Thanks Brenda for all of the support as well as crewing me during the run. I could not have done this without your help, love, and support.
 I don't know where my running will go from here. Right now my feet really hurt and are very swollen, my knee is not too bad. It may be that this running ultra marathon thing will be like a mother giving birth, they think they will never have another child but somehow time dulls the memory of the pain and all they remember is the joy and happiness that it brings to them. We'll just have to wait and see what happens with time.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Wasatch 100 Pacing, Bear 100 Ahead

This last weekend was the Wasatch 100. Once again I had the opportunity to run the last 25 miles pacing for my son Josh. He had a bit of a rough day, however with the lack of training he had due to injuries this year, he still ended with an amazing time of 28 Hours and 37 Minutes. He definitely pushed through some challenging times during the race and finished remarkably strong. I was very proud of him for getting through to the finish and happy that I was able to spend that time with him.

On September 28th is the Bear 100. I am having a difficult time getting my mind around doing a 100 mile race. My training has gone well over the last couple of months. I have completed my schedule generally to the mile. I have completed a 35 miler as well as a couple 25 mile runs over the last month. All that is left for long runs is an 18 miler this Saturday as I begin to taper my mileage for the race. I can say with confidence that although I am questioning what I am doing and my ability to complete this race,  I have stuck to the training schedule all year long.

I have looked through some of the times and splits over the last few years for the Bear and believe that if all the planets align I can complete this race in 32 hours. However I do want to state that my goal is simply to finish the race under the 36 hour limit. Heat will play a big roll in how I do in this race. Unfortunately heat always has a significant effect on me. I do heat training and spend quite a bit of time in the heat, but it still significantly zaps my energy whenever the temperature is at all high.

My goals for the Bear 100 are as follows: My primary goal is to finish under the 36 hour time limit, if I do this I would consider my race a success. My secondary goal would be 34 hours. This is where I would expect to be if I have some small problems and the conditions are not ideal. 32 Hours is where I believe I can finish if everything falls perfectly into place, things would have to be near perfect for me to achieve this time. At this point Josh is planning on pacing me from Tony Grove to the finish, almost 50 miles. Hopefully he will be recovered enough from Wasatch to do this. With Josh's help, a bit of luck, and good weather, I truly believe I can hit the 32 hour mark. We shall see how it all works out on the 28th and 29th.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Speedgoat 1 Bart 1

Here it is Wednesday, 4 days after the Speedgoat 50K, and I am still disappointed in my results. This was my 2nd time running Speedgoat and this year I dropped out at the 21 mile mark. Although I was very disappointed with my decision, as I have never dropped out of a race before, I knew it was the right thing to do. With that the score is now Speedgoat 1 - Bart 1. At this point I am planning on running it again next year as I cannot stand the thought of having that course slay me and having it end that way.

I knew it was going to be a tough day as it was going to be very hot. I also ended up working all day on Friday and was on my feet doing shipping all day long. Friday night my legs did not feel the way I was hoping they would at that point. The next morning I definitely could tell I was not where I wanted to be when we hit the end of the 1st long uphill. My legs were tired already and although I was on schedule I knew it was probably not sustainable.

The one bright side of the day came in Mary Ellen Gulch. This is the section that psychologically did me in last year. This year I passed 4 runners in this section and had no one pass me. I was more confident and my knees felt much better than last year. At this point I was quite tired and knew it would be a long day with the crazy uphills ahead. I pulled into the Pacific Mile aid station at 4 hours and 16 minutes and was out at 4:22, just about on schedule. After the Pacific Mine aid station is a brutal long and very steep uphill. I was doing okay until about half way up. At that point I had knots develop in both of my quads. I slowed down but the knots would not let up. I was drinking plenty of water but It was brutal finishing this section. The heat was crazy and the pace was slow. Once it flattened out a little the knots were not as severe but still present. When I got into the Larry's Hole aid station I felt fairly good  as there is some downhill just prior to the aid station. I knew that I could continue but would be quite a bit slower than I had anticipated. Once I started out of Larry's Hole and into the next steep uphill the knots in my quads flared up again. At that point I had a decision to make. There are only a few locations on the course where you can drop out of the race, Larry's Hole is one of them. I needed to decide if I wanted to tough it out and finish, knowing that I would probably be extremely sore for 3 to 4 weeks if I did, or drop out and be able to get back into training for my 100 mile race the end of September. After thinking about it for 3 or 4 minutes I made the difficult decision not to sacrifice my training for completing the race. At this point I turned around and went back to the aid station and officially dropped out.

It was definitely demoralizing, however I know it was the right thing to do. I was able to go out last night and run 6 miles without any pain and will continue with my training the rest of this week and through the next 2 months in preparation for the Bear 100.

Overall not what I wanted as a result of the race. However now looking back I know I did make the right decision to drop out in order to preserve my body for training for what is my ultimate goal of completing a 100 mile race this year.

As a side note, the course was very difficult this year and the temperatures were through the roof. when I saw the final numbers come in it appears that about 65 runners did not complete the race, almost 25%. It does bring me some comfort knowing I wasn't the only one having a tough day out there.

Next year I will definitely slay the Speedgoat 50K.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

6 days to Speedgoat 50K

Here it is Sunday and 6 days away from the Speedgoat 50K. My training has gone very well over the last several weeks. No injuries to speak of and I have put in the mileage and the elevation runs. Last week Josh and I even went up American Fork Canyon and ran down Mary Ellen Gulch. Last year that section physically, and even more so mentally, did me in. This year I will be going in more confident than last year about the entire race, and especially about Mary Ellen Gulch.

This year I know the course, I have trained on what I consider the most difficult section of the course and have trained well. I am shooting for a time of 9:00 hours. If I accomplish that goal I will be 2 hours faster than last year. Looking back I know I can make up 2 hours by starting up further in the pack, hydrating better, wearing gaiters to minimize the cleaning out of my shoes, faster in and outs at the aid stations, and by cutting off at least 30 minutes in Mary Ellen Gulch. In addition I also know the course and what to expect.

It should be a fun race this year as my son Josh will be running the race as well. This will be the first ultra marathon that we have ran together in. I use the term ran together very loosely as I will not see him during the race once we line up for the start. Even though I will only see him at the start and at the finish it will still be a great experience to share the events of the day with him. In addition to Josh the field of runners is truly incredible. It is very rare to have the talent of elite ultra marathoners that this race will have this year. Obviously I won't see them at all except as we mingle around at the starting line waiting for the magic hour of 6:30 am to start, but the buzz and excitement with all of them present will be a memorable experience.

Friday, June 22, 2012

Speedgoat 50K Training

It has been two months since I have posted. Going forward I will make sure and post more often.

I ended up not running the Squaw Peak 50 this year. I was definitely looking forward to running it but it took me longer to recover from the Buffalo 50 Miler than I ever thought it would, and I also got sick after that and ended up having 3 weeks of minimal training. I felt it was best to not run Squaw Peak and focus on the Speedgoat 50K on July 28th, with my ultimate goal of completing the Bear 100 in late September.

That plan has been going very well. I have been running in the canyons for the last month or more with several runs a week in the hills for the last couple of weeks. It has felt great! I love to run in the mountains and with our snow pack being so pathetic this year I have been able to get up there running much earlier than last year. My goal from now until Speedgoat is to run at least 3 times a week on the mountain trails with a run or two in the valley's as well. This week has been a good week and I feel very good about where I am at right now.

As a side note. I absolutely love my Hoka Stinson Evo's. My last mountain run was in my Cascadia 7's and I honestly don't know how much more I will wear them. I will probably still wear them on some of my 2 to 3 hour runs but not on my longer mountain runs. I do like the Cascadia's on the slight downhill clean sections as I believe I am a little faster in them than the Hoka's in that scenario. The Hoka's are just so much better on the rocks and roots and anything technical, and my knees feel no stress at all when I am wearing them. If it wasn't for the fact that I probably only have about 150 miles on the Cascadia's I wouldn't put them on again, but I can't bear the thought of retiring a $100.00 pair of shoes without wearing them out. My only complaint about the Hoka's is the lacing system they use. If my feet weren't so narrow it might be okay but I have to do all kinds of looping and such to make it so I don't trip over the pull tabs. I will probably switch to a standard lace, as the way it is there is really no benefit to the pull tab lacing system that they have.

I will post again just before Speedgoat and update my progress and my goal. Speedgoat this year should be a lot of fun to be part of as they have a large number of the best trail runners in the country, and the world, running it this year. Not that I will see any of them except at the starting line, but it will be fun to just be involved with such a large group of high caliber of runners, both male and female.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

New Clown Shoes

I celebrated my 53rd birthday over the weekend. It was great having the kids and their significant others, as well as my almost 3 month old granddaughter all there for a get together and dinner. I really didn't need anything for my birthday but my kids always get me something even though I ask them not to. This year they got me a gift card to Wasatch Running. That was a great gift as I was definitely ready to try some new trail shoes. I was not at all happy with my situation at the end of the Buffalo 50 Miler. So the research and pursuit of a new pair of trail shoes began.

I did quite a bit of research online and after determining that every shoe company and most runners are now leaning towards zero drop and minimalist running shoes, I decided I needed to go the opposite direction. Unfortunately I am still about 40 pounds heavier than I should be and I still get a great deal of knee pain whenever I do some extended downhill running. As a result I decided to buck the trend and go with more cushioning.

I have always thought the Hoka One One shoes to be a gimmick as much as anything, and they definitely resemble some type of clown shoes with their overabundant sole's, but after talking with Darrell at Wasatch Running I decided to try on a few different models.
I ended up walking out with a pair of Hoka One One Stinson Evo's. They were amazingly comfortable when I tried them on and ran in them at the store. They also have a crazy amount of cushioning. I was hoping to go trail running in them today after work but Mother Nature threw me a curve with all of the rain. So tonight I will run on the Parkway in my Brooks Glycerine's and do the same on Thursday morning. Unfortunately the Hoka's will not come out of the closet until my next trail outing which due to evening commitments the rest of the week will probably not be until Saturday morning. I can't wait to put some miles on them and see how they feel, or more specifically how I feel afterward.

My training is going well and I am finally getting back to my somewhat normal running routine after taking time off recovering form the Buffalo 50 Miler. Hopefully with the new shoes I can get the trail work in I need and get up to 50 miles a week quickly, as I prepare for the Squaw Peak 50 mile race on June 2nd.