Monday, August 31, 2009

Birthday Weekend

(Haystack Rock at Cannon Beach! This place is really majestic!)

This past week involved some major recovery from last weekend's 100k and it very conveniently coincided with my 31st birthday!

Erica and I decided to head over to the Oregon coast for the weekend, (Cannon Beach to be specific) which is only about 75 miles from home, and although the weather was a bit cold and rainy we still had a very nice and relaxing time. It was so great to take a great big breath of ocean air and to stick my feet in the cold Pacific Ocean. I was able to reflect on the last year and with some help from Erica I realized what an amazing year it has been!

Check out some of our pictures below.

View all

I only ran about 15 miles this past week...just enough to get things moving out of my muscles, and with the help of a one hour massage I think I'm ready to get back into it this week. It did take a while for my hamstrings to get back to normal. They've never felt that way before and I attribute that to the amount of mountain climbing and descending last Saturday. Also, I still have a weird feeling in my hip area but I don't think it's anything to be worried about.

On a more serious note and perhaps something to be worried about is the status of Where's Waldo 100k winner Erik Skaggs. Unfortunately, he started feeling some abnormal discomfort on the way home from the race on Saturday. That discomfort turned out to be renal failure. Erik is now hospitalized and hopefully on his way to making a full recovery. Hang in there buddy! You are in our thoughts and prayers. You can read more about Erik, his status, and donate to his fund by clicking HERE.

I also wanted to congratulate east coast friends Mark Thompson and Ryan Schiff for completing their first 50k ultra marathons at Green Lakes Endurance Runs in Fayateville, NY. Way to go guys! My course record got pummelled but I knew that would happen given the insane heat of last year's race.

Also, for a birthday gift I recieved this really cool little piece of technology. It's called a Flip video camera. Learn more about this amazing yet simple little device by clicking HERE. I took it out on a run with me yesterday and was able to capture some amazing video footage. Unfortunately, it came out a little bouncy while I was running with it so I won't torture you with trying to focus in on the video. Instead I will wait until my skills get a little better before I show you some of the beautiful Pacific Northwest. It is very lightweight and fits snugly in my S.P.I. belt. It's a great device to take out trail running and then when you come across a beautiful view or something worth shooting you can just stop and easily capture live footage...up to one hour's worth. Sweet gift...thanks Erica!

I'm looking forward to getting back out on the trails this week and maintaining and building on the fitness I have attained since just before Waldo. Ideally it will lead me into the PCT Ultra- Hundred in the Hood scheduled for September 26-27.

I'm hoping to finish this year off strong after that little mid summer mishap...we'll see how it goes. Regardless of what happens...Life is Good! and I can't complain about a thing!

Have a great one and happy running!

Monday, August 24, 2009

Where's Waldo 100k Race Report

Yes! I finished strong in 7th place overall with a time of 10:16:16 and brought home some nice hardware in my first race on the
west coast!

Click HERE for full results

This past weekend's ultra marathon (Where's Waldo) served as the U.S.A. 100k Trail Championships down in the Willamette Pass ski area, about 70 miles southeast of Eugene, Oregon. Being a higher profile race relatively close to my new home I decided to enter this race many months ago. Since then many things have happened and at one point I thought I was going to have to pass it up.

The major thing that had me thinking twice about starting the race was an outer knee/meniscus/iliotibial band injury that I incurred on the 4th of July, causing me to drop out at mile 40 of The Finger Lakes Fifties 50-miler. I didn't like that feeling and wanted to make sure it didn't happen again any time soon! So I worked with A.R.T. specialist Gerrit Van Loon in Ithaca, strengthened the area, and I felt pretty solid going into this weekend.

I also got word that my sister was involved in a very serious car accident just outside of Pittsburgh, PA where she had to have the jaws of life pull her out of her mangled car and was life flighted to a trauma center. I contemplated going back east to help out but was so relieved to
hear that she is OK...(relatively speaking) and that other family members and friends are there to comfort her pain. I decided to dedicate this race to Nadia, who now has pins and plates in a badly broken forearm and ankle bone. Hang in there Nadia!

So I drove down Friday afternoon and checked in to the hotel room to quickly find out that a couple of other runners were staying two doors down. Those runners happened to be favorites for Saturday's race... Sean Andrish, a very renowned ultra runner, who is a fellow member of Team Inov-8, and Brian Schmidt, who I have heard and read about tearing up the trails on the east coast. They were joined by Mike Wedemeyer, who would be crew person and happens to be a resident of Portland as well. We all ended up hanging out the next couple of hours getting to know each other, talking race strategy, and checked in at race headquarters before stuffing ourselves with salad and pasta. I was so excited to be here and to be meeting runners that I've read about in the ultra and trail running magazines. Now I would be sharing the same trails with them! ;0)

Race day morning was a bit chilly... I think like low to mid 40's....brrrrr! and I arrived to the start area at like 4:25 am for the 5am start. I toed the line in my Inov-8 Roclite 305's that turned out to be a perfect choice for the terrain at this mountainous course. I decided to wear my jacket for the first 8 miles or so because Mike W. agreed to kind of crew for me too and said that I could throw my jacket to him. He
turned out to be a life saver all day. Thanks bro! Look forward to doing some training together when you heal. we went at 5am into the darkness donning our headlamps and following glow sticks up the ski resort. We climbed for a couple miles and after about a half mile or so Skaggs and Miller took off. I knew that I had a long day ahead of me and kept thinking about how my wife Erica told me to not get caught up in the hype and to just run my race. I ended up taking it back a few notches and settled in with Joelle V. who was powering up the mountain. I would periodically
walk and then run and catch up with her, chatting and getting to know each other the whole time. Then we ducked into some single track and we both realized that our head lamps sucked! Another group came flying by that included Jason Bryant, Sean Andrish, Brian Schmidt, Mark Lantz, Beverley Anderson-Abbs, and last year's winner Neil Olsen.

Schmidt, Joelle, and myself ran together for a bit and then it was just Joelle and I until we came to the first aid station. There I would drop my headlamp and jacket. The volunteers were guy even helped me take my jacket!...I like this kind of service. It continued that way the rest of the day!

After dropping the jacket and dawn breaking it seemed that I turned into a different runner. I didn't really even say much but just eventually separated myself from Joelle as I started my climb up Fuji Mt. I passed the very tough looking Beverley Anderson-Abbs and eventually caught up to Lantz. About two-thirds the way up Fuji I lifted up my head to see Skaggs coming hopping down the mountain with his long legs and effortless stride! Then Miller, Bryant, Andrish, and Olsen came whipping! I know I was climbing but these guys were going after it!

Once I made the summit to Fuji Mountain I was awestruck by the view. I was greeted with a great smile from race director Craig Thornley as I took a 360 degree panoramic view of this beautiful area...whoa! I almost forgot I was in a race! Down we go! I started really turning it on down the mountain...just as the guys ahead of me were doing, and I was really impressed by the folks that started at 3am. They were really kind and often stepped off the trail when they heard me barrelling down the singletrack. Another thing that I noticed about this area is the terrain.
Not only are the forests and trails completely fricken beautiful but they are soft...(not as rooty and rocky as back east...much more run-able) and I think this actually suits me better.

After I reached the bottom and started making my climb toward The Twins I needed to take a couple minutes to go way off trail to relieve myself. In that time Mark Lantz went scurrying by. I quickly got back into it and ended up catching up to him and passing him noticing that he took a spill coming down Fuji. I asked if he were all right and we motored onward.

One thing that I noticed about ultra marathons is that you have to expect the unexpected. When I reached the aid station at mile 20.5 I was planning on eating something solid from one of my two drop bags. As I arrived I yelled out my number to the volunteers. We all looked thoroughly and it was not there! bad! I made a mistake the night before. When I was told to set my drop bags on the tarp I didn't see or realize that there were signs for the different stations. I thought that since I labeled both of my bags with the aid station and mileage, etc. that volunteers would take care of the rest. Not so! Rookie mistake on my part! ;0)

Mike W. was a big help and he assured me that he would track them down and meet me at the next possible aid station which was mile 30.2. Until then I was really satisfied about how I was staying on top of my hydration and calories/nutrition but now with the unexpected change of plans the Gu's and clif bars, etc. weren't cutting it. Basically, I was starting to feel like crap.

When I finally made it to the aid station Mike held open my little cooler and I grabbed a bunch of cantaloupe that I had, some more block shots/gu's, and a home made burrito that was stuffed with chopped Kamut pasta, greens, avocado, and a little olive oil. Boy that hit the spot! That combined with some other treats left me feeling like a new man!

The next ten miles or so were pretty uneventful. I was going through moments of feeling really good to feeling like I was going to get some cramps in my hammies and quads. Climbing and descending these mountains really put a hurting on my chicken legs! I ran through it though and it seemed like for a while I was on the verge of totally cramping up. I continued to take S-caps and stayed on top of hydration as the day got hotter. During this time I got passed by Matt Lonergan from Eugene and Mark Lantz from California and was now sitting in 8th place overall.

I knew that we were also approaching the toughest part of the race: Mile 49-52...climbing Maiden Peak which is about 2,200 feet over three miles. By looking at the elevation profile from the website I just assumed that we would be going up switchbacks to the summit of this mountain. WRONG! No switch backs...straight up!!! I couldn't believe this...This was so difficult for me. However, I worked really hard in this section. When it started hurting really bad I kept thinking about my sister Nadia and how she must have felt when she was hit head on by a car and being pinned down in her seat with broken bones. Ahhh!!! I don't know what the percent grade of this mountain trail was but it was steep and I even yelled at the mountain...just because I felt like yelling ;0)!!!!!!!! I also yelled up to Mark Lantz who I caught up to and he assured me
that we were almost there. A kind hiker from Eugene kept me company for a few minutes of that climb and then I noticed Joelle down the mountain not too far behind...what a machine!

When we finally hit the top of Maiden Peak I was spent with a capital S! The view was absolutely breath taking though! I snapped a picture with my brain and can still see it today;0) This is beautiful country and I am so excited to be living here now.

I also knew that the rest of the race (8 miles or so) was just about all downhill. I was so tired but just started really digging deep to finish strong. I feel that descending is one of my strong suits and Mark Lantz and I worked together to cover some ground. All I could think about was getting some cold water to pour on my head and re-stock my bottles,etc. Before long we came across the last aid station where we caught up to Matt Lonergan. So there we were 6th, 7th, and 8th place all kinda frantically grabbing calories, reaching over each other, watering our heads, etc. The workers at this aid station were top notch. They were on top of everything. One woman asked me if she wanted her to wipe my face. I said, "no that's ok...thanks", and before I knew it she grabbed my head and was wiping my nose and face like a mother...god it was great!

The last few miles were such a mental head trip. I kept going from a mentality of "I got 6th place" to "ahhh...I'm content with 7th...or 8th...or whatever!" I could see Mark Lantz ahead of me but I really didn't have the energy to go any faster. My knees were hurting...I could feel a blister on the inside of my big toe. My quads were trashed and I was over heating. I kept asking
hikers how far we had to go and they all gave me different answers. My Garmin 305 was telling me we had a couple miles to go but sometimes that can be a little off too.

I came across a man swimming naked in an aqua blue lake and boy it looked refreshing. About a 1/4 mile later I came across a little stream so for some reason I stopped and started splashing water on my head and face. Next thing I know I look over and Matt Lonergan is coming down the trail! I yell at myself, "What the hell are you doing!!! GO!!! Finish this damn thing and you can play in the water later!!!!!" I put in some really hard surges mostly because I just wanted it to be over but I was hurting.

Finally, I came around a corner where Sean Meissner and his dog were sitting and I yelled to him, "How far to the finish?!!" He assured me it was only 1/3 of a mile and I said, "Thank God!" When we entered the straight-away toward the ski resort area I could see the finish line and Mark ahead but there was simply too much real estate to catch him. I took a glance back and saw Matt working hard to catch me. I kicked in everything I had despite the headwind and was able to fend him off crossing the finish line in 10:16:16...good for 7th place overall!

I told myself that I would be ecstatic to finish in the top ten this weekend...and...I am! I feel very satisfied and couldn't ask for a better way to come off an injury and emerge onto the scene out here on the west coast. I met such nice people from the moment I arrived at my hotel to the minute I left Willamette Pass Ski Area.

Craig Thornley...thank you! and to Curt R. and all of the other people that made this event so absolutely organized and successful. I can't even imagine all the hours and details that you had to deal with for us crazy runners. The volunteers at this race are awesome and plentiful. The course is hands-down the most beautiful and demanding one I have been in until now. This is one race that I see myself coming back to again in the future! Well done to everyone!

Monday, August 17, 2009

Where's Waldo 100k

I'm putting some finishing touches on race preparation for Saturday's ultra marathon taking place in Willamette Pass, a stunning part of the Oregon Cascade Mountains, especially at this time of the year. Where's Waldo 100k is serving as the U.S.A. 100k trail championships and offers a pretty tough course over the span of 62.5 miles. I realize it is going to be a long day with some long climbs but I am looking forward to meeting and spending the day with some of the best ultra runners around this area and taking in all the scenery. The weather is looking like it's going to be sunny and hot (around 80 for the high) and I hear the mosquitoes are hungry down there! Oh boy!
We will be climbing and descending three major peaks (as seen above) Mt. Fuji, Maiden Peak, and The Twins before arriving back at the start/finish line. We will start at around 5,000 feet above sea level and reach our highest point at around 8,000. It'll be interesting to see if that plays a role combined with the heat and mountain climbs...I'm sure it will!

I'd be lying if I said I wasn't getting a little nervous about Saturday. Even yesterday when I went to the running store to stock up on supplies my stomach started churning a little bit...but maybe that was because of all the GU's and Clif block shots I bought and the thought of eating all those made me a little queezy! ;0)

I also feel a little tentative about how my leg is going to hold up over this demanding course. I keep telling myself that I am ready but the DNF at mile 40 on the fourth of July keeps taunting me. Since then I have put in some solid miles and have done many strengthening exercises to hopefully elude the same problems. I got in a 7+ hour 40 miler in on my last day in Ithaca...the week before that I got in 35 miles in two days, and when I moved out here I was able to get in 50 miles in two days...feeling really strong....pain free.

I am an adventurer, and a risk taker, so I said the hell with it! Regardless I am going to have an amazing experience as I embark on this scene out here. It is only three hours from home and it'll be cool the be up there with Skaggs, Ballesteros, Olsen, Andrish, Meissner, Morrison, Lantz, Bryant and the least at the start line and hopefully the finish, and maybe in between! ;0)

So send me out some positive vibes on Saturday morning as I will be spending roughly half a day meandering my way through the trails and trials of this coniferous wonderland.

Happy Trails!

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Super Smoothies for Runners and Endurance Athletes

Calories, calories, calories! It's hard to keep up sometimes without submitting to junk food that doesn't really offer any nutritional value. Over the last few years I have been experimenting with many different smoothie concoctions and I have found that it is a necessary component to maintain my health. It also just makes it so much easier than having to cook all of the time!

I came across a great recipe that is super nutritious that can serve as a breakfast before or after an ultra long run!...Check it!

2 cups 100% pure juice (not from concentrate)
2 cups frozen berries (mix it up...I like blueberries and strawberries)
1 cup Soy yogurt
1 cup cooked oatmeal
1 banana
1/4 cup of ground flax seeds
1 scoop of hemp protein or Vega (about 20 grams)

Put all the ingredients into a blender and blend until everything is broken down. This shake will leave you feeling energized...for a little while anyway! ;0) Let me know some of your favorites or if this works one works out for you!

Another product that just made our life that much easier is the Vita Mix blender (<--click on text)...OMG! This is by far the greatest blender/food processor/ machine I have ever seen! Aside from your normal smoothies and fruit/veggie juices you can also make hummus, nut butters, sauces...the list goes on an on....Unbelievable!

Expensive but definitely worth the money! If you're into making smoothies and can afford this high powered quality product you won't be disappointed. It even comes with a DVD with instructions on how to make certain things. Yeah! I've used it every day since we ripped it out of the box four days ago!

It also helped fuel me through this last week of relatively high mileage in checking out new trails in the beautiful state of Oregon.

Wednesday Erica dropped me off at the very end of the Wildwood Loop and I ran 26 miles on the main trail all the way back towards home.

The next day I headed out to Mt. Hood and ran 24 miles on the Pacific Crest Trail which is also a section of the inaugural 100 in the Hood Ultra coming up in late Sept.

Well that's enough out of me for now. It's too nice of a day to be in here on my laptop so I'm heading outside...but I'm sure I'll be back later to re-fuel with some good healthy ingredients in our new Vita-mix! Ciao!

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Hello Portland Hello Heat!

Well we finally made it to Portland, Oregon...our new! Talk about a runner's paradise. We arrived a couple of days after some record temperature highs reaching over 100 degrees apparently. I could tell it was uncharacteristic because we had to go to like three stores before we could find one that didn't sell out of fans! The trails are almost like running on pavement too because they are so dried out. I'm not complaining though, in fact, I feel so grateful to be able to access the Wildwood Trail just a few minutes outside of my door. 5000 acres of trails butted right up against the city gives us the best of both worlds. I can't get over how excited I am about this amenity!

My final days in Ithaca were really nice, but emotional at times as I said goodbye to my family and friends. We had a little gathering down at Buttermilk Falls on Wednesday evening and were able to have one last mingling session before my planned ultra long training run on Thursday.

I planned to leave Ithaca by logging a 40-mile run on the Finger Lakes Trail. Ian Golden, Mark Thompson, Jeff Juran, and myself started in the dark at 5:00 a.m. on Thursday and even though they only joined me for the first seven miles their company and the act of waking up early to send me off was greatly appreciated. Thanks guys!

This was also a test run to see if my leg could hold out for an extended period of time and to see if the strengthening and stretching exercises have been working effectively. I made it to about the 20-mile mark where I would stop and have a bite to eat and chat with local ultra runner and friend Nancy Kleinrock. Nancy was in the middle of a 70-mile bike and a nice big hug from her sent me back heading towards Ithaca with some good energy. When I hit the 35 mile mark I was greeted by Mark T. who returned from a short shift at work to take me home the last five miles. Moments later Eric Sambolec joined in and it was so great to say some final goodbyes in this way! Thank you guys both so much!

I was able to get a solid 82 miles in this past week (which was made easier by half of those miles coming from one run!) and I feel strong. Coincidentally a friend and training partner Michael Wunsch just happened to be here in Portland for a convention so we were able to hit up the Wildwood Trail this morning. Thanks for all the good hill training over the last couple years Michael!

I'm so excited to emerge on this scene out here and to meet others that share the same passion and to explore this beautiful part of the world.

Thank you everyone from Ithaca and I'm going to miss you guys...Keep in touch!

Happy Trails!!!