Tuesday, March 30, 2010

New lengths

This weekend's Buffalo Run 50K was my first baby step into the world of ultra running, and as such it was a bit of a learning experience. But it was a most positive experience, and I'm already looking forward to more. I've already written a race report on my other blog, so I'll just record a few more observations here.

The initial results showed me in eighth place overall and first in my age group. By the time the results were posted online the next day, I'd moved into seventh overall, and by the time the official results were posted I was in sixth (at this rate, I may win the race by the end of the month). I'd say I did okay, considering that I've only been running for two months, and earlier this week I was questioning whether I should have even signed up for the 50K instead of the 25K.

Of course, it's not like I'm completely new to this. Fitness is transferable, and all my time on a bike over the last few years certainly counts for something. And I finished 40 minutes behind the overall winner. But he seems like a legitimate (and much more experienced) trail racer, So I'm still pleased with my results this weekend.

Although I'm happy with the results, the race was far from perfect. For one thing, I somehow managed to get lost in Bountiful on the way to Antelope Island. As a result, we didn't even make it to the race until 10 minutes before the start, which left me rushing for a bathroom and barely making it to the start on time. In my hurry, I also failed to tie my shoes properly, which would cause blistering later. And of course, I didn't eat as much as I should have. Surprise.

Anyways, I felt pretty good when the race started, and as I approached the end of the first lap I found myself comfortably in fourth place and feeling good. Unfortunately, I was a little confused about the course, and I didn't realize I was supposed to return to the start before beginning my second lap. (I later found out I wasn't the only confused runner on the course.)

Even more unfortunately, I didn't realize my mistake until six or seven miles into my second lap. Obviously, by then it was too late to backtrack. At first I was crushed. I figured my race was over, so I decided to walk and wait for Catherine, who was running the 25K, and finish with her. But then I thought that maybe if I finished the lap and then ran the missing section of course before crossing the finish line, my time would still count (it did).

So I started running again. But by then the damage had been done, and I was no longer in the game mentally. Which was too bad, because by then I was starting to feel the effects of running farther, longer and faster than I ever had before. Without my focus, I had a hard time pushing through the pain, and the last ten miles were a mix of shuffling and walking, with some real running thrown in sporadically. In fact, as I approached the finish I thought I'd rather just cross the line and take a DNF rather than run back up the hill I had skipped earlier in the lap. But Josh, who was waiting at the finish, offered to run back up with me, and that provided enough of a distraction for me to finish the race in 4:32:37.

Catherine crossed the line about 30 minutes after I did, and she did it with a more spring in her step than I did. Her race was the farthest she had ever run, too, and we both agreed it was more pain than pleasure. But still worth the effort

After, the race, we spent a little time hanging out with Molly, Marcus and Josh, who had come out to watch us finish. It's amazing how much it means to have a little support at the race, and Catherine and I are glad they could make it.

After a long day on the trails, neither of us had any appetite for the buffalo stew waiting at the finish. Fortunately, Tigger was more than happy to eat our share.

With my first 50K in the books, I'm already looking forward to my second. Catherine and I are heading down to St. George in a month for the Red Rock 50K. I'll run the 50K, and she'll run the 30K. I predict faster times for both of us, thanks to a course profile that looks like this:

instead of this:

GPS Report - March 27, 2010 (Buffalo Run 50K)

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Buffalo Run 50K

Details to come.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Fall plans

First, I realize that the details of my training are boring to a lot of people, so I'm going to stop posting training updates here. Besides, I've been posting them somewhere else for the last two months, making updates here redundant. I'll still talk about races, training, and adventures on this blog, but it won't be the focus. I'm not sure what the new focus will be, but I'll come up with something. Or maybe I'll avoid a specific focus and just write about whatever is on my mind. Or maybe I'll run out of ideas and go back to posting training updates. We'll see.

Second, I mentioned last week that I'd been accepted to law school and that the formal acceptance letter, as well as a scholarship offer, were in the mail. They both came today, and I'm happy to say that I've been offered a full-tuition scholarship to BYU's law school. Which pretty much means that's what I'll be up to in the fall.

I haven't committed to anything officially, but it's hard to imagine what it would take to get me to pass up this opportunity. Even if I get accepted to one of the other, more highly ranked programs I've applied to, I doubt any of them will offer to pay my tuition. And even if they did, I'm not sure if it would be worth it for us to leave Catherine's full-time job here in Salt Lake.

I'm excited about going back to school. I'm also a little anxious, especially since I once had a roommate who was a first-year law student. I love my free time, but it looks like I won't have much next year. But the degree will open some doors for me, and I think BYU will be a good fit.

For years I've been saying I'd like to go back to school. It looks like I'm finally going to do it.

Friday, March 19, 2010

And this relates to what?

While reading the latest Mailbag entry on velonews.com, this letter struck me as odd:

Dear Velo,
Here is an incident that would have happened only in a women’s race. A few years ago, during the Cascade Cycling Classic, downtown criterium, a rider was forced wide on a turn. She hit the curb and had a scary crash, landing flat on her back. After missing a lap, she got back in the race. Between the curb and her landing, she and her bike hit my wife and son-in-law.

After the race, she rode back to see if all of us were OK, even though she was hurt (and abandoned the next day).

I really can’t imagine a male pro doing that.
Dennis Krakow
Bend, Oregon

I don't frequently read the letters on velonews.com, so maybe I'm reading this out of context. In fact, I hope I am. Because by itself, this letter makes me think that some guy suddenly felt the need to proclaim that because one female racer was nice to him and his family several years ago, male racers are jerks.

And that's kind of weird.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

At least someone wants me

This morning I had an interview over the phone with an assistant dean from the BYU law school. I was a bit nervous because I had no idea what the interview was about (when I asked the administrator who set up the interview, all she she told me was that the dean just wanted to ask me a few questions).

Anyways, the interview was quick and painless. I've been accepted to BYU, and I'll receive my formal acceptance in mail soon. The dean also told me that I'll receive an offer for a "substantial scholarship." I like the sound of that.

This is the second school I've heard back from and the first I've been accepted to (I was put on the waiting list at Duke). I won't be making any decisions until I've heard back from other schools, but if I'm not in school in the fall, it won't be because nobody would take me.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Another run cut short by lack of foresight; or, Catherine's introduction to Eric-style winter training.

With the Buffalo Run 50K in just two weeks, I decided that today would be good for one last long run. I wanted to run a relatively mellow 25 miles or so, but I didn't want to be running around Rose Park or doing laps at Liberty Park, so I decided to run the Canals Loop, featured on Davy Crockett's blog.

(Davy Crockett is a local 50-something ultra runner. From what I can tell, what he lacks in speed he makes up in prolificacy. He runs a lot. I haven't met him, but I first heard about him several years ago when Jared sent out a link to an account of his winter run across Utah Lake.)

The Canals Loop (for those who don't follow links) starts west of Point of the Mountain, near the National Guard base. From there, it's a simple matter of following an old dirt road north along one canal, and then returning south along another. The course seems nice--flat and gently rolling roads through the fields in the southwest corner of Salt Lake Valley. Although it's right by civilization, the route (or the part of it I saw) has a very rural feel. A perfect way to make up for last week's Liberty Park adventure.

Of course, after a week of warm, beautiful and dry weather, the forecasts called for more adverse conditions today. But from the report I read, that meant high 30s/low 40s and a little rain. The forecasts also mentioned snow, but considering the temperatures, I expected that to stay up in the mountains. (Can anyone see where this is going?)

Before I left our apartment, Catherine asked if she could come along. Instead of running laps at Liberty Park, she would set off on the canal roads after me and turn around at the 6-mile mark for a 12-mile out and back. She'd get back to the car before me, but she and Tigger would wait for me and then we'd grab lunch together on our way home. It sounded like a good plan to me, so we hopped in the car and headed south.

Because of the weather reports, I was disappointed, but not surprised, when it was raining at the trailhead. I warned Catherine that it might be a little uncomfortable, but we both agreed it was no big deal and set out on our runs.

It wasn't uncomfortable at all, at least at first. The path was enjoyable, and the light rain kept me cool. For the first four miles or so, I cruised along at an 8:00/minute pace, pausing every two miles to mark the difference for Catherine. But somewhere in the fifth mile (about where I passed the small buffalo farm), the rain started turning to snow. And by a couple of miles later, it was snowing hard. Because it was cold, to state the obvious.

At several points I thought I should turn around and head back to the car. But I convinced myself that Catherine, the one with the common sense, had already turned back and was well on her way back to the car.

But she hadn't, and she wasn't. At about 7.5 miles, I heard my phone ringing. It was Catherine, and she was cold, and she wasn't happy about it. She told me she was heading back to the car, and I told her that was a good idea. I was worried she might be in trouble, so I turned around and ran back as fast as I could.

I met Catherine at about 5.5 miles. By then, Catherine was doing much better, but I was a wreck. I was shivering violently and I could barely use my fingers, so Catherine and I hopped off the trail and I knocked on the door of the nearest house. Luckily for us, the woman who answered the door had just returned from her own run in the rain and snow, so she let us in and Catherine and I warmed up in the foyer until Molly came out and rescued us.

It's been a while since I've had one of my bad weather winter disasters, and this was Catherine's first. And while it probably won't be my last, it will be hers. Like I said, she's the one with the common sense.

Then again, she's also the one who jumped out of the car at a red light and ran across two lanes of traffic to buy a box of Girl Scout Cookies.

GPS Report - March 13, 2010

Monday, March 8, 2010

Back-to-back on the BST

Yesterday was our two-month anniversary, and since I had one vacation day I needed to use by the end of the month, and since it was our two-month anniversary, I took yesterday off so Catherine and I could spend time together.

We went to the temple in the morning, and then Catherine went off for a long run. While she was out, I decided to go run the Bonneville Shoreline Trail. I ran up to the Dry Creek trailhead via Virginia Avenue. From there I ran the BST all the way into City Creek, and then straight home via E Street.

Conditions on the trail ranged from dry to muddy to snow packed, but other than a few sections that were so mucky that I was forced to walk, I ran the whole thing. Just over 10 miles and 16,000 feet of climbing.

Catherine got home from her run shortly after I got home from mine, but unfortunately she got sick shortly after that. That put an end to most of our plans for the rest of the day, but at least we were able to spend time together.

Because I enjoyed yesterday's run so much, I decided to run the same trail this morning. This time I ran the course in reverse, from City Creek to Dry Creek. Roughly the same pace, even though the climb out of City Creek seems steeper than the climb up Dry Creek. It's probably because the trails were drier this morning than they were yesterday.

It rained pretty hard this afternoon, so I don't think I'll be on the trails tomorrow. Instead, I think I'll go for an easy run on the treadmill before work, and if the weather clears up, I'll run up the west side of City Creek on Thursday.

GPS Report - March 8, 2010

GPS Report - March 9, 2010

*Edit: My brother points out that I misstated the vertical gain. I'll let you figure out what it should be.

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Liberty Park monomania

Back in October or November, when the weather started looking more like winter, I decided that I didn't want to ride my rollers this year. SO, to hold me over until there was enough snow for skate skiing, I bought some running shoes and started running laps at Liberty park a couple of times a week. When the snow started falling, I stopped running at the park. And when I started running again in the middle of January, I didn't go back to the park. Until this week.

I was ready for a recovery run on Wednesday after my longer runs on Monday and Tuesday, so I ran over to Liberty Park after work and did a few easy laps on the cinder track (5.5 miles or so). And since I've been running a lot more lately than I was in the fall, I discovered that I like running in the park now more than I did then.

So the next morning I ran to the park from home, ran four laps, and ran back home for a total of nine miles. After that, I started thinking about doing a long run in the park. It sounded boring, but it also made a lot of sense. There are bathrooms (you never know when you may need one on a run), and the drinking fountains and the 7 eleven on the corner make it so you don't need to carry any supplies (gel, water, etc.).

So, this morning I decided to try it (I was on the treadmill on Friday). My plan was to run to the park, run 15 laps and then run home, for a total of 25 miles. I came up a little short (12 laps and 20.6 miles) but it was still a good run. As expected, it was boring. But it was also a perfect place to put in some long steady miles. And I think running on the cinder track (instead of the road) prepares the legs for running on trails.

As a side note, I was about to bonk by the end of the run, surprisingly. I guess easy access to food and water only helps if you use it. Oops.

Anyways, I'll be running in the park a lot more from here on out, but I don't think I'll be doing many more long runs there. It starts to get old after about an hour.

GPS Report - March 3, 2010

GPS Report - March 4, 2010

GPS Report - March 6, 2010

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

City Creek: door to door

As expected, my early morning run yesterday left me tired in the afternoon and evening. And even though I went to bed reasonably early and slept reasonably well last night, I didn't feel quite ready to climb out of bed when my alarm went off just before six this morning.

Of course, I did get out of bed, and I did go running as planned, and I'm glad I did. The weather in Salt Lake has been fantastic lately, and this morning was no exception. But because it's still March, that could all change in a second, and it would be a shame to miss an opportunity to get outside.

Anyways, I repeated my run/climb up the west side of City Creek Canyon this morning, but this time I ran to the trailhead. I also continued past the ridge where the trail tops out to the first of three consecutive summits (I'll get to the next two on my next two trail runs). The route to the top is steep enough that running is faster than walking, but there's nothing like a summit to add a sense of closure to a route.

In a little more than one hour, I wound up with just under 8 miles and just over 1,500 feet of climbing.

GPS Report - March 2, 2010

Monday, March 1, 2010

Early start Monday

I planned to do my Bonneville Shoreline run this morning, waking up just before six so I could run to and from the trailhead. But I woke up an hour before my alarm went off, and since I couldn't get back to sleep I decided to head out early.

Unfortunately, Catherine's headlamp (which I've been borrowing) isn't strong enough for serious trail running. And because starting at five guaranteed that it would still be dark by the time I was descending the trail, I decided to skip the trail run and put in some road miles instead.

I starter with my usual 2nd Avenue to Virginia Street to 11th Avenue to Bonneville Boulevard, then I ran two laps around the capitol and retraced my route back home. I ended up with just over 11.5 miles at an average pace of 7:14. And I was done and in the shower by seven.

Maybe should set my alarm for five every day.

GPS Report - March 1, 2010