Thursday, August 25, 2011

2011 Bair Gutsman Race Report

After last year's race, I was a bit dissapointed with how it went, so I was looking forward to the 2011 iteration of the race. This year's course would be a bit different from prior years because of the Farmington Canyon road closure. The decision was made to run it as an out and back course running up bair canyon until the service road just pad Grobben's Corner, then fastening the seat belt for a hair-raising descent of the same trail.

In my running I've really tried to learn to conserve a bit the first few miles of a race to leave some energy to finish strong. Many of the heavy hitters from last year's race were absent for this year, so maybe the pace wouldn't be quite as ballistic right from the get-go.

At 6, the gun went off and up the road we went. It is almost exactly 1 mile to the dirt trail. I went out nice and easy, but just fast enough to "sort" a bit so I wasn't having to pass people once I got to the trail. Up to the third stream crossing, I was feeling good. I was gradually gaining of a fella in front of me. Just after the third water crossing he gapped me not to be seen until the top. The vegetation was extra thick this year what with the record snow year we had. I'm guessing I was somewhere around 5th until we hit the ferns. Ah, the ferns. I got lost in them this year. Somehow I left the trail and ended up bushwacking through ferns, reeds and gamble oak (I hate gamble oak!). After what seemed like an eternal 10 minutes, I popped out on a ridge with the trail 200yds off to the side. While I was getting up close and personal with my plant identification, I lost 5 spots. Gotta love the gutsman. Another 1.5 to the top that was pretty uneventful. I was, like pretty much everyone else, forced to hike. My watch was showing the gradient over 30% for much of this section. I passed, or repassed a few people on this section. Eventually hitting the top, I grabbed some swedish fish and pointed downwards.

Despite my proclivities for "dangerous" recreation (climbing, b/c skiing, etc.), bravery is something that I always struggle with. Is bravery required for running? I don't know, but the speed at which some of the racers descended was sphincter-clenching for me. So I got passed (or repassed) 2x on the downhill. Overall the descent was about 5,000 feet in 5 miles. You do the math--It was steep! After hitting the pavement, my quads were toast. I was forced to leg it out the last mile so I didn't get passed again. I saw someone over my shoulder and thought "Well, he's going to have to earn it if he wants to beat me." Amazingly, I held him off for about a mile. I never do that! I have a long established history of getting pipped at the line or passed on the finishing straight. It felt good to fight someone off this time. I crossed the line in 2:44. 9th place this year and 26 minutes in arrears of the winner (A former college XC runner and 2:35 marathoner--so I can't feel too bad).

Full Results here.

Mile splits (Total Distance 10.27 according to Garmin)

2011 & 2010


In some ways I was pumped about how the race went. In some ways dissapointed. The 2 that passed me on the downhill put 7 and 9 minutes into me. My knees were hurting from self-braking and I'm not sure how much faster I could have gone. But still--9 minutes?! I got lost--that sucked and I lost several minutes, not to mention copious amounts of skin cells from brush. After looking at my time, I think I could have done 2:15 on the regular course (Had I not gotten lost--guess at which mile that happened), so I think my fitness is better than last year. Although my time year over year was similar for the first 5 miles it felt comparatively easier. And I was 5.5 minutes faster on the death row mile this year. The climb felt hard, but easier than last year.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Skyline Mountain Marathon 2011 Race Report

The Skyline Mountain Marathon was awesome. I loved it. Fantastic small race with amazing single track and excellent vistas of both Ogden city and Ogden valley/pineview. I'll try and break up my report into a few sections to make it readable.

#1 - start to Ben Lomond saddle aid station (6 miles, 2,800 feet gain)
#2 - BL saddle to the North Ogden divide(6 miles 2,800 feet loss)
#3 - NO divide to top of climb (3.5 miles, 2,000 feet gain)
#4 - Lewis peak trail to Winsurfers beach. (6.5 miles, 3,000 feet loss
#5 - Windsurfers to finish (4 miles, flat)

#1 The race started at 6a near a campground in Liberty. Some quick directions were given and then the race director did a countdown from five and yelled GO!

My plan was to run the first climb conservatively to save my legs for later on in the race. It was pretty dark for the first mile which forced me to run at a mellow pace--just what I wanted to do. The first climb is 100% runnable without anything steep enough that would make you want to walk. I settled in behind a guy who was moving at my intended pace and plugged along. Winding up the mountain through switchbacks, we eventually climbed out of gamble oak territory (I hate scrub oak!) and into the subalpine through groves of aspens, firs and meadows of wildflowers. The sunrise was brilliant with the Eastern sky full of shades of orange and yellow as the sun hid behind the clouds. Invigorated from the nice views of the valley, and the wildflowers I had a feeling today was going to be a good day. Before too long we hit the first aid station at the Ben Lomond saddle. A small group of 3 got there just before me but didn't seem to be in much of a hurry to move on. (1:15ish I think-I don't remember exactly) So, I filled my bottle and took off ahead of them for the next 6 mile section that eventually descends down to the North Ogden divide.

#2 I recognized much of the terrain on Ben Lomond from the ski tours over the past few winters. However, the next section down to the divide was new to me as I'd never been that direction summer or winter. I leapfrogged with an enthusiastic young guy who passed me, and I passed back within a couple miles before the next aid station. I was at the divide (mile 12) at about 2:05. I had no real expectation for how fast I would be, but hoped that I could finish in 4:30-5:00 hours. I was on pace for that, and maybe even a little ahead of it.

#3 I knew that the climb onto the South Skyline trail from the divide would be hard because I can't run most of it even when I'm fresh! So I power hiked. My Wasatch 3x finisher friend Greg calls it "hiking with a purpose." I tried to, but felt slow. Luckily for me I was just slow enough to make it to the top right as they were setting up the aid station. Lucky me. Apparently the volunteers were late and the first 6 or 7 guys missed the water/gu refill and were forced to run about 10 miles with no water refills. Ouch. Even with my 20 oz. refill at mile 15, it was getting hot and I was out of water again by mile 20 with the last aid station at mile 22.

#4 This was one section that I've run several times this summer. It feels long, and the downhill is a killer. Not hard, but just sustained pitch forever. I knew that this was a section to motor and I tried to as much as I was able. Aside from 1 runner (Davis High class of '81 he said) that power hiked past me on section #2, I was in my own private Idaho not seeing anyone in front or behind me. I was left to suffer alone. And suffer I did. My knees were angry at me. My quads were starting to gripe. I started to see a few half marathoners at the end of the section. I could feel my pace slowing from 7:30-8:30 to 8:30-9:30. On downhills! I felt like that was as fast as I was able at that point. So I hunkered down in the pain cave and got on with it. 4:02 cumulative time to windsurfer's. At this point I was really hoping to finish in under 4:30, but it would be a real push to make it at this point.

#5. The crux. After descending 3k vert in 6 miles, I knew the hard part for me would be the last 4 miles. Just keep the legs moving and see how it goes I told myself. My friend Craiger offered to run the last bit with me and I was grateful for someone to run with. I was slowing down, and it was starting to get ugly. I saw my 4:30 finish come and go. My legs & especially my knees were begging to stop. Could I at least go under 4:40? After what seemed like forever, I could see the finish line. A few minutes later and I was done with my first real marathon race. 4:39:15. 7th place and 38 minutes in arrears of the winner.

Well, I'm glad I did it. I would have liked to run more solidly from mile 18 to the end but that's racing. Within 15 minutes after finishing I was already thinking of what I'll do differently next year. I've never really considered myself a runner, but I don't know if I can say that now that I've done a marathon. Hopefully running this summer will get me ready for trans Zion and possibly rim to rim to rim of the grand canyon this fall and a non last place finish in Jackson in January. We'll see.