Monday, December 10, 2012

A Close Pack of Races

In the last two weeks I've ran two races. On the 25th after a wonderful Thanksgiving with family in Seattle I ran the Seattle Marathon for the 4th consecutive time. I followed that up with the inaugural McDowell Mountain 50 Miler this past Saturday.

I usually would never schedule two races so close together....but my buddy Korey was running McDowell Mountain too, and I really needed some redemption after my fail-fest up in Flag.

Seattle Marathon ( Nov 24 2012 )

What can I say, the Seattle Marathon is one of my favorite races. It was the second marathon I ever ran, I've run it four times in a row and I've gone from struggling to a 5 hour finish to easily putting up a respectable time. It's pretty much the race I have come to measure myself against over the past few years. Most importantly the race comes at the end of an always wonderful week in the Seattle area with my Grandparents who always come and cheer me to the finish.

This year was definitely unlike any other. In the past I've always been pretty nervous, unsure of how I would perform and nervous about the notorious hilly section in the last 5 miles. Things are different since I've been running ultras....the hills at Seattle that once seemed daunting are now little bumps compared to some of the monsters I have to climb (see McDowell Mountain 50 miler for more on this). I went into this race confident and expecting to PR, although only by a few minutes. I had a general goal of running a comfortable marathon and then moving on to the 50 miler two weeks later.

I finally get a good action shot at this race

The race went pretty much according to plan I started out right around my goal pace and pretty much cruised for 3:32:40 until I hit the finish. Along the way I chatted briefly with one or two people but mostly kept to myself and enjoyed the day. It was mostly foggy until about 23 miles at which point it turned in to one of the glorious sunny days that are often neglected when people talk about Seattle. When I got to the end I decided to give it a good go to the finish and sprint as fast as possible.....this apparently really excited the announcer as I blazed past as I heard him scream something about "you're killing it!"  ..... anyway it was a good race....I plan to run it again next year.... its pretty much a tradition for me....good course, I recommend it to anyone who is looking for a marathon to run.

McDowell Mountain 50 Miler ( Dec 8 2012 )

After my failure at Flag I knew I needed to redeem myself but just couldn't see how. It took me most of October to get right after my injury which left me with just shy of a month to train until Seattle. I pretty much figured there was no time for another Ultra in 2012. This really bummed me out, if you ask anyone who I've talked to about Flag the DNF didn't sit very well. Korey told me he signed up for McDowell Mountain on December 8th. I followed the advice I usually give people about races "just sign up and deal with the consequences later".

December 8th was an early morning. I was staying about an hour away from McDowell Mountain Regional Park so I had to get up around 4:15, get my stuff ready, have some coffee, go out there, and then get settled for the hour before the race. Just before 7am the RD, Jamil Coury, lined us up and gave us the pre-race brief which he finished up with by telling us "I ran this course straight through a few weeks ago, I did it, so can you" .... I had to laugh because only a few months ago he won the Mogollon Monster 100 and is a really great runner.

Anyway we were off through the the cactus land that is the Sonoran Desert. I kept an easy pace and fell in with a few people. I had a pretty set plan for this race and made sure to stick to it. Hammer Gel approximately every 30 minutes plus eating food at aid stations.  I got this advice from my friend Siobhan who I met at the Bull Run 50 Miler in April. This plan work In addition to that I made a point of avoiding both my Ipod and drinking Mountain Dew until the mile 29 aidstation. I didn't want to get bored of my music or get too wired on caffiene and crash and burn.

I wish I had a lot to say about the first 20 or so miles but I really don't. We all took off, Korey ran out front with the leaders and Dallas blazed by me a few minutes later. After that the next few hours were mostly steady pace. I talked with some people for a while, enjoyed the views of the Superstition Mountains and just took it easy. Unfortunately I could tell my legs weren't exactly fresh...its not like I really tapered for this race but oh well! The only big climb of the day was  from mile 19.5 to 22 and it was only a 1300 foot climb. It didn't seem that daunting and Korey and I had even been laughing before the race that it couldn't be as tough as the climbs in Flag or even at 3 Peaks. We should really stop laughing at things... Korey was coming back my way in third place as I went through mile 18, I asked how he was doing and all he said was "that hill is a bitch!" ......Korey is known for running up most hills no big deal....I knew trouble was on the way.

I pulled into the aid station at mile 19 or so and looked out at the road up to the top of the mountain which was adorned with several cell towers. This is when I figured out why this climb was so bad....there were no all.....the road went straight up about 3/4 of the way....took a right.....stayed level(ish) for a while...then took a left and went the rest of the way.....The people at the aid station were telling everyone looking at the mountain "hey the complaint department is at the top"..... I power hiked the best I could up the mountain which definitely had sections with 20% grade ... Dallas came ambling down past me at one point laughing saying "Hey! Use those arms and legs man!" ....he was right arm pumping totally helped.... at one point another runner passed me with a GoPro asked me to say a few words to the camera and then said something about me being a "Billy Goat" ..... it's funny now but at the time I was too tired to be amused. When I reached the top a guy named Nate was sitting there marking down when everyone arrived. I looked at him and simply said "I really hate Jamil right now!" he just laughed and said "Yeah when I heard this climb was part of the race I was really confused....and then I saw who designed the course and it made sense!"

Most of the climb was steeper than this....

I let out a quick victory cry and started working my way down. Down was certainly faster than up...but I still wouldn't say there was much running as it was still crazy steep and I was feeling a little drained. Eventually I worked my way back down to the aid station which was at mile 25, fueled up, ate and headed out.

It was starting to get hot....I started pouring some water on my head .... the next 4 miles was a steady climb through the Sonoran Preserve which was really awesome....even if it was slow going for me....while the climb up the mountain hadn't hurt my energy stores too bad it really did hurt my motivation and at times I just couldn't really force myself to run. Eventually the trail turned down and I looped back into the aid station I had just been at twice in a row at mile 29..... I was really excited.

Shuffle... Shuffle

I took out my Ipod turned it on then looked to the aid station volunteers and said "Tell me you have Mountain Dew!!!!". I had two small cups and then flipped on my Ipod and took off. The next few miles had some climbing and some down hill but I got a good stretch of running in. I still didn't have too much motivation so there was totally some walking...but hey I never claimed to be fast at the 50 miler. After the aid station at mile 33 things turned up. The next 6 or so miles were all down hill and all on non technical terrain. Good music was was finally cooling off and in what felt like not too long (it was still a long time) I rolled into the aid station at mile 39. Things turned a little down hill after this my motivation problems came back and the trail went back to some rocky single track that I really just didn't just myself to push it on. So I just took what the day gave me and when night started creeping up around mile 44 I pulled out my headlamp and flipped it on.

I rolled into the last aid station which was at the start/finish and ate some food and prepared for the last 5 miles. Larissa was waiting for me and asked "Hey, how are you feeling" apparently I got a grim look on my face because she said "oh....bad question" ...She did let me know that she was going to get me a pizza while I took care of the last 5 miles. I angled my headlamp down towards the ground and shuffled off.

The last 5 miles was not very much was dark...I kept banging my toes into rocks....and the loop section we were running is pretty much a snakey figure eight. I kept thinking I was lost then I'd see another race marking and think "ok sure" after a long slow haul (there was lots of out loud swearing here) I made my way over the top of the ridge and saw the finish again...then the trail turned to the right....then I ran into a sign I had seen about 35 minutes earlier and a bunch of wrong way signs! Ahhh...what! I knew I had made a wrong turn so I turned back and realized that about 300 yards earlier I had missed the correct turn was about 1 more minute until the finish! I rolled in at about 12:52. Larissa helped me over to a chair next to a heat lamp and quickly brought me my bag-o-stuff I had prepared for the end of the race....I was getting cold fast so I pulled on a pair of pajama pants, put on a fleece and removed my shoes. Nick Coury was there and he brought me over my finishers pint glass and congratulated me on the finish. After that I got into the car and deliriously ate some pizza and drank from a giant bottle of ice tea.

Overall not my best race, real motivation issues....but I never once seriously considered quitting.....and the recovery is going really well! Oh yeah...Korey...that speed demon won the whole thing and erased a 15 minutes deficit in the last 5 miles.....rock on man you are awesome !

Jamil and Nick Coury put on really good races....and they seem to have marking these things totally locked down....anyone in the southwest should strongly consider one of their races!

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

A Teatise in Failure

I don't like to a matter of fact it is one of my least favorite things in the world....but apparently sometimes it happens. Needless to say, the Flagstaff 50 miler did not go so well for me. Actually.....scratch was going great....until it went completely sideways and I had to take a DNF.

Flag was for sure going to be a tough course, but I was ready, I ran or hiked over 180 miles in August including some pretty much all day affairs. I tapered hard in September because I know it works for me....even though I hate tapering and it drives me insane. I prepared in advance, had eating and hydration planned out.....I knew the course....and on race day I knew exactly what I had to do...I was

Normally I'd break the race down section by section but since I DNF'd and am kind of mad about it I'm going to keep things short and simple. Miles 0-22 went really well....I was conservative, I followed my eating plan like clockwork and despite some tough climbs I was feeling good. I had just run about 5 miles with Christie Bane from TTR, the company and conversation was great and my energy was doing really well. I knew the second half of the course would be tough but as Christie said "Our current pace is very sustainable" .... I generally agreed with this as we closed in on half way..... then disaster struck....

I was running along all nice and happy and then bang.....I trip on a rock jutting out of the let me be clear....the trail wasn't was easy....I just wasn't paying crazy close attention and I caught myself on it.... At first I thought I just got jolted ....but I noticed myself slowing and let Christie pass me....I continued to slow down and she pulled away.....the front of my foot hurt a lot but I figured I could deal with it. I toughed it out to the mile 25 aid station and then began the climb right afterward.....about half way up I noticed my hip flexor was hurting now too....crap.... so the thing about hurting one side of your running (ex: my hurt left foot) is that your otherside tries to compensate to make it feel better.....this then screws up the other side too...usually in your hip flexor......

So the next six miles went like this.....

Descending: "My foot hurts"
Climbing: "My hip flexor is killing me"

I tried for over an hour and a half to talk myself out of DNF'ing but in the end as I rolled in to mile 32 aid station after walking most of the last 10 miles all I could really think of was "If I keep going I might get seriously hurt and have to stop running" I did what I had to do and took the DNF..... The race director, Jamil Coury, gave me a lift back to the start and was in general really cool. On the positive side I did get a full 32 miles in and injury aside I felt able to turn around and do it again when I dropped....this means I'm training smart and racing smart....something I don't always do!

My friends Kayley and Brian were in town because they wanted to get out of Phoenix.......also I asked them to come see me finish....they made me feel a lot better by giving me some beer and telling me funny stories....

I thought it would take me a lot longer to write this race report...but in reality I just want this race in the rear view mirror....the DNF isn't sitting well....I'm already plotting some sort of "Redemption Run".....

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Tapering at Altitude

I'm tapering for Flag 50 which basically means after my 60 (ish) mile week I haven't been running a lot. But if I didn't do something I would totally freak out so I have been busy. Over Labor Day weekend I had kind of a grand tour of Arizona. First, I went up to Flagstaff and did a little camping and reading. The next morning I woke up at 0'DarkThirty broke down my campsite and hauled it in my car over to Humphrey's Peak with the goal of running up and down as a test of myself at altitude prior to the race on the 22nd.

Some Tea on the Stove
Early AM Trail
I started up and ran up the best I could.....but it was more of a power hike. I shot up the pretty quick and hit 12300 ft in (3000 ft of climbing and 4.3 miles of trail)  about 2 hours. Then my legs started to get wobbly and I started to feel like I was going to get sick off the side of the mountain. With maybe 300 vertical ft (and 1/4 mile) left to go I decided to turn around. I was one of very few people that far up the mountain and I was alone so I decided not to risk it.....altitude sickness hits you these cases its best to not be stupid.

So I turned around and jaunted down the mountain. As I started descending I felt way better....until I got lost....I ended up off trail for about 10 minutes before I found my way back.....note....if you have to slide down the probably aren't on the path anymore.  After my detour I got back on the path and started  running/hopping down the rocks.....I felt way better....and agile like a mountain goat.... I passed a ton of hikers some of which gave me a friendly "Wow good work!" and others a much more angry "What the %#%#$^ you aren't even sweating bro!" ...... I got down after a little over an hour of descent.

Went back to some some really good espresso to wake me up. Then I headed for the next adventure. I spent the rest of the weekend on the Mogollon Rim, which I highly suggest to anyone outdoorsy. I camped here literally the tent was right behind this picture:

I'd tell you where this is but I don't want you stealing the spot!
The Rim was great although quite windy! The next day I had a hike up Tonto Creek on the way back toward civilization......there was a hail storm....8 more miles!

Since then I've been continuing to taper and drop bags are all set....11 days to Flag....I'm ready to bring it!

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Good and Bad

Running can be an interesting sport one week you want to be sick and post your worst time ever, the next your easily cruising to a PR. Life in general it turns out is a lot like this as well. I've been treated to two especially horrible days running recently as well as one that was just perfect. It's important in running (and in general) to roll with the's your actions in these moments that define you.....just pick yourself up and hang in until things get better......they always do.

This quote pretty much says it:
 "Run when you can, walk if you have to, crawl if you must; just never give up."

55+ Miles last week. Less than a month to Flag!

Specifically what I'm talking about:

Bear Canyon Loop 17.5 mi 3:57 (Personal Worst)
Bear Canyon Loop 17.5 mi 3:15 (Personal Best)
Mt Lemmon 17 miles ..... gave up after 9 miles and 2 miserable hours.

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Mountain Repeats / Monsoon in the Face

Hill repeats are a large part of a runners training and are made to build speed and endurance. They generally involve running up a hill that's about 300 feet multiple times. This results in tired but improved runners. Ultra training ends up taking this to the next level. Today some of us went for some mountain repeats

The Santa Rita Mountains are about 60 minutes south of Tucson and are home to one awesome / brutal mountain, Mt Wrightson. The trail up Wrightson is 5 miles long and involves 4000 ft of elevation. Korey, Mike Duer, Dallas, Chris and I all met up in Madera Canyon at 6 am with the intent of doing multiple ascents of the mountain. I have run up this route once before for my first run with TTR, it was brutal and I wanted another shot... this was it.

We all started up the trail, Korey and Mike shot ahead and a long day of climbing began. I stayed with Dallas for about 3 miles but he pulled away too. The top of the mountain was socked in but they were nice white fluffy clouds so I was excited to run through them. I hit switchback city and powered my way up to the Baldy Saddle. I ran up along the ridge through the clouds and made my way to the summit. The others passed me on the way down. The view of the summit was really cool since I was above the clouds. I knew I wanted to do another climb so I only stayed about 2 minutes, ate some Accel Gel, drank some water and started back down. I was happy and feeling good and way ahead of my previous time. An uneventful run down brought me into Madera Canyon again after 3:10, a 30 minute improvement.

I refueled grabbing a turkey/avacado wrap and a coke, refilled my water and got some more Gu and started back up. Looking up at the summit the clouds were getting thicker, I knew I probably wouldn't make it to the top before some weather rolled in so I resigned to only making it back to the Baldy Saddle again. The first two miles were brutal and humid and I felt like crap. I pushed through and ended up really enjoying the second part of the climb. There were a few light rain showers but they only lasted for about 2 minutes each.

At the saddle I looked around and the clouds were starting to get dark. This confirmed my decision to turn around. I figured with about 4 miles back to the canyon I could hopefully get down before the rain started since I had made good down hill time before.....this was WAY wrong. I got down through the crazy switch backs (~1 mile) and it promptly started to rain  monsoon. This slowed me way down...the trail was pretty much turned into little rivers which annoyingly covered up all the rocks....I decided not to push speed and just walk it in....getting a sprained ankle would be bad....

The rain was cold....I trudged foot started to hurt..... other than that I felt great.... plenty of energy.... Chris had passed me on his second time up and passed me again on the way down, he seemed pretty adept at running through the rain soaked trail. He stopped and lent me a goretex vest and walked with me for a bit then took off to get down off the mountain. The vest warmed me up and I walked/jogged the rest of the way in..... I got back to the parking lot thoroughly soaked 3:50 after I started up for the second ascent....this is really slow considering I skipped the final summit part.

This run kicked my butt.....but in a good way...overall I got more than 7 hours under foot, great training for Flag! Also the total elevation gain/loss was 7500/7500 which is just short of the total gain/loss at Flag! So I figure if I can do that in less than half the distance I will be ok! Overall a good day...well except for the Monsoon in the face.

There was a little bit of climbing today!

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Cuyamaca 3 Peaks.....Lots of Climbing...Slight Breakdown....100% Awesome

The Cuyamaca Three Peaks 50k is a small mountain Ultra located just outside of San Diego in Cuyamaca Rancho State Park. The course boasts over 6000 ft of climb and is just within range to get to by car. This makes it the perfect place to go for a race during the hot hot Arizona summer. I headed out Friday night and camped in my car about 2 miles from the start the night before the race. Some people might say that camping in your car is weird, but, it is cheap, it lets you stay close to the start line, and my Outback is exactly the right size if you put the back seat down…so it was great. Sunset the night before the race was beautiful and after the sun went down the stars were out in force. In the past I have almost always been nervous the night before a race. In this case I wasn’t. I knew I had trained hard but most importantly I had finished a 50 miler before so 50k just didn’t seem as daunting. I knew whatever the course threw at me I would be ready and be able to finish. Anyway I had talked my buddy Korey into running this race...Korey is a speed demon and we both knew he was going to do really well. I love it when I know other people at the race it makes it more fun....even if they are miles ahead of you!

I'm stoked lets go!

Stonewall Mountain 1 (0-6.5 Miles)
The race started out at a pretty good pace as the sun was rising. We looped out around the lake past a bunch of horse stables and toward the back side of Stonewall Peak. We started climbing the peak, everyone started to slow down a little bit as we climbed up. The girl in front of me told me to pass her whenever I was ready but I told her “I don’t want to do anything stupid this early”. This turned out to be a great choice as the current pace ended up being perfect. After climbing the peak there was a great run down a series of switchbacks to the first aid station at the Paso Picacho Camp Ground at about 7 miles. I grabbed some food and then took off back into the woods.
Middle Peak (6.5-13 Miles)
The next section started out pretty flat but pretty quickly started the climb up and around middle peak. One or two people passed me here but I felt like my pace was right. I also remembered that we still had over 20 miles to go so I decided to just keep it nice and steady. The climb up the peak was almost all single track mostly through some awesome tall grass. This section of the trail was beautiful and it was still nice and cool. After the climb the course turned down a fire road for a nice easy descent back toward aid station two which was located at the start. On the way down I saw my buddy Korey coming back up I yelled out to him that he was in second place and to keep it up. At the aid station I grabbed some more food and a little ginger ale to calm my stomach down. The volunteers helped me refill my water pack which was awesome because even though we were only 13 miles in I had already drained it. I had looked at the next section on the course map earlier in the week so I knew what was coming and I braced myself.
As you can see 13-19 is a bit of a climb

Middle Peak (Again) then Cuyamaca Peak (13-19 Miles)
I’ll just be up front about the next section. It was hard, it was hot and it took a lot out of me. After aid station 2 we turned around and re-climbed middle peak up the fire road. The sun was finally out in force, so this area was hot, and my stomach was not co-operating. At the top there was a short descent and then we were all faced with the daunting last climb of the day to the top of Cuyamaca Peak.  The trail up the peak is pretty rugged and due to burns in the past is fairly exposed. Me and Jeff (who had been running with me since about mid way up middle peak) slowly made our way to the top. It seemed like this trail kept getting steeper. About half a mile from the peak the trail dumped out onto a road which just progressively got steeper.
We finally got into aid station three (19 miles) at the top of the peak. I was tired but this aid station was like a shot of adrenaline. The aid station was manned by women in bikinis and they had fresh strawberries, watermelon, and ice pops.  I’ll admit up front (and if you ever run an ultra with me you’ll find out) that I act like a complete idiot at aid stations. I’m always excited by the food and the cold drinks.  I also usually end up calling the aid station workers “My best friends ever” or “The coolest people in the world” or something like that. In this case since we were over half way through this was my first chance to drink Mountain Dew of the day (In general, I have a rule that I don’t drink caffeine during the first half of the race).

Life giving frozen goodness!

 I drank two cups of mountain dew, ate a mountain of strawberries some watermelon….some more food that I don’t remember…there was also a bucket of ice water and I may have dunked my head in it….it was wonderful….everyone laughed at how excited I was. Anyway after aid station goodness I headed out with another full water pack as the climb had depleted mine.
Down to Cold Spring (19-26 miles)
The next section of the course was almost entirely downhill….yes… was great. We all bombed down the hill for the first couple miles and everyone who I ended the climb with eventually spread out again. Three miles into the section it flattened out a little bit and I started to hit the wall. I slowed down and got passed by about four people. I worked through the wall but it was a little hard. At one point I was going down some single track that was overgrown and brushed a plant out of my way….it was totally covered in nettles….it was awful….I swore….but luckily about 5 minutes later I broke through the wall and started running again. I passed some park rangers on horses on the way down the trail, flashed the hang loose sign to some guy taking pictures and rolled into aid station 4 at like 26 miles.
I got a band aid for my nettle sting from the plant, ate more food, refilled my water pack (empty again), grabbed a couple more GU’s and headed out.
Cold Spring to Finish
The next couple miles were a slow uphill section. I decided to go for a 7 hour goal and I knew I had plenty of time so I decided to take the uphill section slow, knowing that the last 3 miles were downhill or flat and I’d be able to run. My thought was if I saved my energy I’d have enough energy left to run it in strong to the end. Anyway a good deal of walking up hill here. For such small hills they were really tough, I was physically and emotionally drained and just didn’t want to climb anymore. I’m not ashamed to say that I just lost it for just a minute or two. In past races when I have come close to breaking down like this there has always been someone around, but this time I was all by myself so I just let it out (I totally cried a what). After a few minutes I gathered myself up and pushed forward as the hilly section was ending.  After I hit the top of the hills I finally started running again. I could see a couple people out in the distance and my competitive side kicked in. I knew they had passed me while I was hitting the wall and I really wanted to gain on them again. I eventually passed all four people who had passed me earlier and ran it in toward the end. One runner did pass me in this stretch, but he really was killing it so good for him! The trail looped back around the lack in reverse of the route at the start and in no time I popped out onto the road and ran it into the finish area closing out my race in 6 hours 52 minutes placing 27 out of 84. Korey had finished long ago (coming in fourth) but he and his wife held up at the finish line and cheered me in. Afterwards I drank like 3 bottles of water and ate a bunch of food to get my energy back. Overall I felt pretty good considering I had just knocked down a tough mountain 50k.

I’m really happy with how my race turned out, while I’d always like to be faster I kept a good smart pace and for the most part didn’t pass or get passed by many people….This usually means you aren’t doing anything stupid! I’ll remember a lot of things about this race, the awesome sunrise and the breeze blowing on me running through the tall grass. I’ll remember how happy I felt to be out running in the mountains and how liberating it was to push through the hard parts of this race. After the race I hung out for a bit with Korey and his wife, they are great people. That night I drove back as far as Yuma before getting a hotel and crashing. It was really a great weekend….I would totally run this race again.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Running through the desert and/or mountains

So I haven't updated since my initial post after moving to Tucson. However, things have been really busy between work, running and trying to meet new people I just don't seem to have all that much free time. Luckily I seem to be doing really well at all three so I'll call it a win.

Needless to say I've been training hard...but not quite as hard as I should. I've been a little more diligent since I signed up for another 50k....having goals forces you to train! I'm going to do this kind of like my update I did after Antarctica....there are several runs so I'm just going to play them out in order!

Wasson Peak

Ok so one day off after the brutal run up Mt Wrightson I went out to the Tucson Range and did Wasson Peak at sunset. We ran up and hit the summit right as the sun was going down. It was pretty spectacular! The trail was all single track and it was pretty technical the whole way. The climb up took about 1 hour 10 minutes and then it was about 50 back down leaving me at an even two hours. One thing I've noticed is I don't go as fast as I should on technical down hills....if I work on that I can improve my times a lot!

As you can see from the map the route is a simple out and back. The first 3 or so miles you are stuck kind of low. But, once the climbing begins the views get great and there is some really good running while you're up on one of the ridges! I'm glad we did this at sunset...because man it was hot that day....also it gave me a chance to do the last 30 minutes with my headlamp and get some night trail practice.

Catalina Peaks

I did this run with Tucson Trail Runners who are an awesome group of trail runners that just relish being surrounded by Tucson's mountains and trails. The route was supposed to be 22 miles, however early on the group I was running with took a small (5 mile) detour and then late in the run I twisted my ankle a little bit. Luckily at mile 17 which was at the top of Mt Lemmon (9000+ ft) there were some people setup with an aid station, so me and another runner hopped a ride back to the start and called it a success at 17 miles. I think my time was something like 3:40. Anyway, I met two pretty cool people Korey and Guy and we ran pretty much the whole way as a group....Korey actualSly finished the run and after the detour at the beginning probably hit 27 miles for the day. This was a lot of fun and I even saw a snake sleeping under a rock ( I gave him like 15 feet of space :) )

Bear Canyon (Or adventures in hydration)

So I've done this route twice now and the two times were VERY different. The first time I ran this I stayed out late the night before...I'm trying to be social and meet people remember....anyway there was a cool band playing downtown so I listened to most of their set before going home....anyway I woke up the next morning to do the 17 mile Bear Canyon Loop....Instead of downing a whole bottle of Gatorade like a good runner I just rolled out of bed and out the door. I'm going to take this moment to relay some advice that Running Legend David Horton gives runners at his races "Don't be stupid". I think its obvious my first encounter with this route didn't go so well. I downed my whole 2L of water in the first 8 miles, luckily I was running with Korey and he had plenty of extra....and there is actually running water 14 miles in when you get to Sabino Canyon.....anyway....Hydrate!

The second time (2 weeks later) was much better. I've since figured out hydration a little better and didn't even use my full 2L of water on the run. Repeat...."Don't be stupid" ..... this is great advice for endurance athletes. Anyway the views on this run are spectacular you run through two canyons and up and around a small mountain....its great...I love it....I'll probably do this route at least once a month. Anyway 17 miles....currently running it in about 3:40.....I really think I could do it in 3:10 if I quit being a wimp and just push through some of the tougher parts.

Sunset Loops

Another TTR run. This run was a lot of fun, again it was up in the Catalina Mountains and involved the climb up Mt. Lemmon. However, this run is nice and has all the climbing at the beginning. The run starts with a climb from the Sunset Trailhead to Mt Lemmon and then goes out along the ridge for several miles before dropping into a really cool place called the Wilderness of Rocks (It's just what it sounds like). The only bad thing about this part of the run is that sometimes the trail kind of disappears for 50 feet. Eventually the trail loops back around to the Sunset Trailhead making a giant Figure 8. 17 Miles....I ran this in 4:50.....I felt really slow all day.....I want another shot at this....I feel like 4:10 should be my goal. Anyway lots of elevation lots of miles.


Tucson is great! Socially I'm doing pretty well getting out there and meeting people. Running here is awesome, 20 minute drive to great mountain trails and there are plenty of other crazies out here who love to run long in the mountains......Oh I almost forgot....There is this awesome hill on my way home from work....there's a road to the top, I do hill repeats up it once a week for training! Each lap is 3 miles 700/700 ft gain/loss!