Monday, April 21, 2014

ZANE GREY PREDICTIONS (a case study on the demise of ultrarunning).

The ultra running community knows that our sport is rapidly changing and the consensus is that this change is a good thing.  More people running, faster runners lowering course records and creating more competition, etc. etc.  You've all been hoodwinked!  Our sport is doomed.  We're all getting too soft.  Ultra runners used to be hardened grizzly characters with leathery skin and dirty clothes.  Nowadays we're all softies, which leads me to my Zane Grey Predictions...   For the men's field it's basically going to be a "walk off" over 50 miles of rocks.

Apparently there are tons of prizes for the top finishers this year*, like free highlights at the local salon, and Tweezerman Ultra Precision Slant Tweezers, and Ultra Whitening Strips for our pearly whites.  Pantene has jumped on board as one of the major race sponsors this year, with free shampoo and conditioner available at all aid stations (we all know what the sun and heat can do to one's hair).  The heat and our sweating will naturally require frequent reapplications of product.  Lucky for us, got2b is supporting runners this year by leaving this in our goody bags:

When we come rolling into the aid stations, parched by the desert heat, what better to quench our thirst than Orange Mocha Frappuccinos!

Here is a look at some of the "talent" on the men's side:

Hal "the smile" Koerner
When he's not posing for the cover of magazine's Hal does run extremely well.  He has run Zane three times and placed fourth, third and second.  Despite his refined exterior, he's proven his toughness time and time again, and that will likely earn him the W this coming Saturday.

Erik Schulte "Fox"
 My good friend Erik is a full-time employee with Patagonia... and part time professional model.  We train together a lot and he is very talented.  He's yet to race to his potential, hopefully Zane will be where he gets discovered.

Nickademus "where's the jungle?" Hollon
 Don't let his bulging biceps and good looks fool you, Nickademus is tough as nails.  He ran ZG back when he was a teenager, he won Barkley last year, he got 3rd at HURT, ran Badwater, etc. etc.  He'll feel right at home on the gruesome Arizona trail and will finish on or very near the podium.

Jesse "animal" Haynes
 Unfortunately, I think Jesse pulled out of this race since he just ran Lake Sonoma, but he's just so crazy, you never know - he might show up?

Jon "the cougar whisperer" Clark
Jon's specialty is racing shorter distances, but his sheer grit and speed will serve him very well.  So will his recent training block of chasing a mountain lion down a trail, hopping on a bike for a bit, then running sub 5 minute pace on the track.

"Hollywood Hone"
Evan ran Zane well years ago, and these technical trails are exactly what he loves to run (if he can't be in Alaska).  He's a ridiculous climber, as his Mt. Baldy FKT proves, but Zane isn't all uphill.  He has the talent to win it outright, we'll see in a week.  Behind these chiseled cheek bones and perfectly groomed facial hair is a family man, seen above playing games and goofing around with his daughter.

Billy third from the left.
Billy Yang, cinematographer, runner, and male model.  As of late, you just can't keep this guy out of the mountains (unless he has a scheduled photo shoot).  He's going to fall even deeper in love with the dirt, rocks, trees and wildlife that is abundant around the Mogollon Rim and never return home, LA will miss him.

Other top male contenders:  

Catlow Shipek - He'll get first or second place.

Bret Sarnquist - Runs a lot and places well, had a solid finish here last year.

Brian Peterson - Won Los Pinos 50k last year, which speaks to his toughness.  I wouldn't be surprised to see him on the podium.

Andrew Miller - Young guy (18) placed 3rd at Pine to Palm last year, has run some fast 50ks.

Ryan Smith - He's from Boulder and he looks tough, so he must be good!

Sion Lupowitz - Fresh off a Old Pueblo 50M win.

Nick Coury - Didn't include him on this list initially because I forgot he was running it, oops.  He'll run his personal best for sure and win be in the mix.

Ian Torrence - Has recently run some stupid fast 50k's and I think this will be his 12th year running ZG!  I initially didn't have him on the list because I thought I saw him lying on the ground dead at the finish here last year, my bad.

~Please let me know who I'm forgetting/overlooking/am unaware of and I'll add them to the list.


It's looks to be a cooler than normal year, and there should be a good pack of dudes up front pushing each other, but Dave Mackey's 7:51 CR will still be standing.

What about the Women?  Their field has some heavy hitters as well.

Kerrie Bruxvoort - Last years winner, likely to repeat this year.  She barely missed finishing sub 10 last year, she'll get there this year.

Diana Finkel - Has placed 2nd here the last four years.  She'll likely do the same this year.  It's not that she couldn't go for the W, for some reason I see this as good HR training for her more than it is a race.

Michelle Barton - She is extremely talented and runs a lot.  Will she show up eager to race, or will she be out having a good time at a more relaxed pace?  Either way she will finish quickly.  

Carly Koerner - She's raced a ton of tough courses, and will finish well. 

Silke Koester - Likes difficult races, or at least runs them a lot, will finish on the podium.

Holly Miller - She's familiar with Arizona trails, and will finish with a solid time.


Nikki Kimbal's 9:14 CR will remain.

*All comments in this blog related to prizes and sponsors are spurious, as are most comments made by the author.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Chesebro Half Marathon Race Report

 1,000 friends and I are off!

The weather was ideal for the race, 50's-60's with cloud cover.  I love how these shorter races I have run recently have a distinctly different 'race' feeling.  When running a 50 or 100 miler you can really let someone take off, and get way ahead of you.  No need to keep 'em in sight, you've got hours to reel them in - which is a fun, maybe more cerebral type of a race.  But in a race as short as 13 miles you really have to stay close if you want to be able to pass someone.  At the top of the climb that lead to the course's highest point, the races eventual winner, Scott Hambly, was a minute or so ahead of a group of four that I was in the middle of.  It's inspiring to chase someone 10 seconds in front of you, hear footsteps in your ears and see yet another runner 10 seconds behind him.  I like the way I have closed the final quarter of the race in most of my races.  I can't say that for my last two races - crumbling apart in CIM and Sean O'Brien was very frustrating.  As I pushed myself to keep the 2nd place runner from furthering his lead, and to keep the 2 runners behind me from catching me I thought to myself, "not this time."

When we reached the peak of the course and began our 5 mile rolling decent to the finish I knew it was time to make my move.  I passed the 2nd place runner in front of me only to watch him pass me back on each an every little incline for the next couple miles.  Once we hit the pavement and had two steep miles to go I passed him for the final time, knowing that I should pass with authority in attempt to squish any thought in his head about him being able to pass me again.  And it worked, barely.  I definitely picked the right shoes to wear.  The Rapa Nui Tarmac's are my lightest Hoka's and yet they still had plenty of cushion to run fast, pounding down steep road or hard dirt.  Excellent shoe for this mix of smooth trail and asphalt.

Me floating.

Elissa floating ( I love floating pictures).

Leading up to the race I was feeling fairly confident that I could run a 1:15 at this half.  I had been putting in some solid training since the Sean O'Brien 50 miler.  A lot of speedier stuff, hill repeats, etc.  I have recently started fine tuning my training by working with Sage Canady and Sandi Nypaver as coaches after checking out their VO2 max productions website.  I was feeling optimistic about the race.  A day before the race I woke up with a sore throat, but otherwise felt fine.  I kept denying that I was getting sick and ignored blatant symptoms that proved otherwise.  During my pre-race warm up I thought, hmm... I'm cold, clammy and light headed, but having a tiny cold wont really slow me down.

By mile 2 I felt tired.  I looked at my Garmin and realized I was running slower than I did during training runs earlier this week, even though I was pushing much harder now than I was then.  Darn.  For a split second I thought about scaling back a notch.  Why really push it if I can't run to my potential today?  Then I realized that I was only running 13 miles, and that I could still race for fun, and get some great training out of the day.  So I gave the race all I had and I would have regretted it if I hadn't.

This is the third race in a row that I've run and can't help but look back at my performance without a sense of frustration.  This is not to say that I didn't thoroughly enjoy each event.  Spending hours pushing myself to the limit, while feeling the love and support from friends and family, while supporting them as well is something that I cherish.  Last year I was more content with my running performances.  Part of me hopes that the rest of my races this year will be more fulfilling from a performance perspective, but I have realized that it is easier to dissect results I am less happy with than to critique a race where things went smoothly.  In other words, I am learning more from mistakes and misfortune.

While I ran MUCH slower  than I wanted to, a lot of things went well.  My hydration and nutrition plan worked well, I didn't have to frequent port-a-potties at all, and besides being sick, nothing was wrong with my body, i.e., strains, sprains, etc.  There are a lot of little things that have to happen to have a great race:  prudent training, smart eating the days leading to the race, being injury free, mental fortitude, not being sick, etc. etc.  We have a lot of control over much of that list but not all of it and there is a gigantic amount of ambiguity in each of those characteristics.

I was happy to pull off a 2nd place in 1:22 considering how I felt going into the race.  The post race festivities were great, as one might expect at the Great Race of Agoura.  Kids climbing a gigantic climbing wall, a band, hot pancakes off the grill, hanging out with friends like Keith and the Salingers - not bad way to spend a Saturday morning.

Alright, enough whining about the past.  Time to focus on the next race!


I love this race for a thousand reasons.  The technical trail, the crew of Arizonans that will be there, the beauty of the Mogollon Rim and the chance to run into Elk on the course (I had to stop to let three pass in front of me last year) are just a handful.  Naturally, since I love this course so much, I also love to train on similar type terrain.  I am stoked to abandon the asphalt and lose myself in some gnar.

Pictures of the course from ultraRUNNING website.

This year will be special too.  A huge group of friends from  SoCal will be showing up to party. After getting lost for a couple miles last year I'm eager to see what I'm capable of without getting that lost, but as anyone who has run the course knows, it's pretty easy to get turned around out there.