27 June 2010
Sports spectating is a big activity (yes, there's irony in that word under this context) in America. I've never been much of a spectator. Yesterday, I'm a little ashamed to admit, I spent over 14 hours solid following the updates, tweets, photos, and video of the Western States 100 mile run. As I sat, bed left unmade, barefoot, shirtless, and hair mussed like a sweaty hillbilly, I was captivated by one of the best performances, check that, several of the best performances I've ever witnessed in sports.
You need to understand that there is no tangible prize for these people to push themselves to the point of utter depletion. Yes, for those lucky ones who run under 24 and 30 hours, respectively, there is the coveted belt buckle. It's a buckle, no money, not even a belt to go with it. The majority of the runners usually don't even get a buckle. Though I'm impressed by all 400+ runners who stepped to the start in Squaw Valley early yesterday morning, I'll point out a small selection of runners that have left me more hopeful, motivated, and inspired that I might someday do something equally as impressive.
Andy Jones Wilkins. The man lives for Western States. It seems to be the one selfish, guilty pleasure in an otherwise selfless, outgoing life. I met and ran with AJW at one race last year and have been a fan (even more so) since. If you don't like Andy, then there's something wrong with you as a person. I also, quietly, felt that there was absolutely no chance of him repeating his impressive string of top 10 finishes this year at Western. There were simply too many runners this year who are more talented, younger, and faster. Andy finished 9th overall with a group of guys breathing down his neck for the chance at top 10 and a return ticket to next year's race. I consider him one of the most consistent and focused runners in the sport.
Nick Clark. I've watched Nick for the last couple years move from a runner in the lead pack to a race leader. To show up at Western with the level of competition and face them with the courage and guts to finish 4th (1 min behind 3rd), left me in awe.
Rory Bosio. This young lady runs like a veteran. She won the women's race at Firetrail 50 mile last October. We ran near enough to one another that I could witness how she handled the inevitable low spots of these long events and how she pulled herself up to run one of the fastest women's times at that race. I assumed she would do well at Western but felt that would mean running any time under 24 hours and maybe getting into the top 10. She fought and clawed her way up through the standings consistently throughout the day and finished 4th overall woman in 19:32. At 25 she is going to be a force for a long time.
Anton Krupicka. Talk about pressure. This guy has as many critics as he does fans. He needed to come to Western and race the best in the sport to solidify his standing atop the ultra field. Running with a mixture from the heart and strategy, Anton dueled it out courageously from the start with the amazing force of Kilian Journet, finally breaking the younger runner late in the race and finishing with what would have been a new course record. I knew he'd run fast at Western two years ago when I predicted a new record by Anton (the race was cancelled due to fires). He came away this year with the performance he should be most proud of, even over his wins at Leadville.
Geoff Roes. I've admired Geoff since I noticed his run in 2008 at the North Face Championship 50 miler. He obviously wasn't intimidated by the big guns of the sport then and is showing them how it's done now. His refreshing style of workhorse, speed, and strategy combine to make him, in this fan's mind, the best ultra runner in the world. The man faded back over 16 minutes behind Anton and Kilian, both of whom kept up the torrid pace. I doubt there was anyone who thought Geoff had a chance at that point to even maintain 3rd. His run over the last 20 miles is something that must be considered one of the best finishes in any race. 15:07:04 in 100.2 miles at Western States.
Congratulations to all the runners at Western this year. Watching you inspires me to get out there and DO.
21 June 2010
14 June 2010
Ran the length of Mesa Trail to meet Jeff V for a run up Green Mtn. Thankfully, he's tapering for his race up Mt Evans this Saturday, so he was good enough to wait fo my slow self to get up the mountain. Fell, again on the slick, wet rocks on the descent; tore the end of my right pinky finger off and re-ripped the palm wounds - awesome. What's up with this falling business??? I haven't fallen in two years.
4.5 weeks before North Fork 50 Miler....
12 June 2010
Not wanting to do anything crazy like bounding descents on Bear or Green on rain soaked rocks, I opted for a flat trail run out to BoBo Link. After the first out n back I decided to do it again for 17 miles total. Boulder Creek is crazy high right now and in sections was up over the trail submerging it under 18" of water which I happily trounced through like a kid.
Since this run never takes much thinking or attentiveness, I have room in my small mind to pry open other thoughts. One of these thoughts was about how people (runners, ultrarunners, mostly since they are the majority of the blogs I visit) portray themselves on their blogs in ways that are in stark contrast to reality. I mean, I realize no one is going to just come out and present himself as the schmuck he may well be but to go the opposite direction and advertise himself as one thing when it's inconsistent with things he does in real life. I think it's common to be concerned how one is perceived by others. Adamantly stating that one does not care what others think automatically calls that person into question and says that he surely does care.
A friend and I were exchanging emails over the last week "talking" about this, i.e. how one portrays himself and how that portrayal often strays from reality. At one point he wrote, "We've known so many people who looked like they were living the dream and had it all, then, the next thing you know - divorced, bankrupt, complete freaks, etc....." In his overt and refreshingly blunt way of expressing things, my friend nailed a very common thing about our culture; how one seems is not how he lives. Of course, I'm generalizing and know there absolutely are people who live how they seem. I'm just saying it's common enough that it's noticeable and noteworthy.
Keep it real folks.
06 June 2010
Separated shoulder (probably broken) at mile 23. 7th place in 5:32. Awesome event and stout course at 9,000 ft climb all between 7,000 ft and 9,500 ft elevation.
So, the longer version is:
The race started at 6am and it was fast. Justin Ricks, Dillon, and Nick Pedatella had a gap on the rest within the first 20 meters. I settled into the front of the second grouping when we hit the single track. It was a constant climb and I had trouble catching my breath. Some tri-guy behind me commented that we were doing 7:02 pace, which I was feeling in a bad way. He also commented that it was his first ultra. I softly cautioned that he should take it easy ESPECIALLY on this course and, to his credit, he dropped back. Rick Hessik and I ran much of the first 2 hours together and I assumed we'd run the entire race that way but once we hit what I imagine was the highest climb of the day I began feeling good and dropped into the descent with a purpose.
I passed a couple of folks and caught up with Darci Africa and chatted for a couple minutes then I moved on in pursuit of two guys I caught a glimpse of up in front of me. The race was going well after 3 hours and I felt I had a shot at top 5 if I just paid attention and kept.... THUD, SMASH, CRACK!!!!
Yes, on a long washed out steep rock-strewn dirt path/road at about mile 23 I was cranking trying to put more distance in front of the two guys I recently passed. With the descending angle of road I was easily running under 6 min pace and caught a rock with my left toe that sent me flying into the other rocks and gravel. It felt like I had jumped out of a speeding car. I heard a loud crack from my left shoulder and immediately thought it was my collarbone. My hands felt hot with a lot of dripping running down each finger, so I wasn't surprized to see the deep holes in my palms. After dropping a few f-bombs and throwing my hand held bottle, I jumped right back into the same pace before the accident. I had to hold my arm tightly to my body like in a sling or the already heavy-duty pain became unbearable.
The last two hours were a blur between pain, eating, drinking, and running as hard as I could. The descents that I usually fly down were now terrifying. I just kept imagining how bad it would be if I took another fall into the rocks (thinking about it now makes me nauseous).
I ended up in 7th overall and only less that 2 mins out of 5th place, so I was content. My back resembles raw hamburger, knee isn't much better and the hands speak for themselves. The shoulder swelling has set in today and it hurts to cough, sneeze, breathe, and move but otherwise I'm pumped to launch into some heavy training for upcoming races.
[caption id="attachment_330" align="aligncenter" width="225" caption="the black things are imbedded rocks and dirt"][/caption]
03 June 2010
I shoe-horned my way into the Golden Gate Dirty 30 50k this Saturday. There's a substantial amount of climb (9,000 ft!), so it should make for a long morning but I'm looking forward to it.
Here are a couple of shots of Pippit from out Memorial Day jaunt up Bear Mtn. The little guy was so tired he laid down in the stream at the base of Bear.