March 27, 2011

Pink Pine is always a fine time

Andrea skinning up the Pink Pine ridge

Despite being wiped out from yesterday's Antelope Island trail races, we still wanted to do a little skiing this weekend, considering the optimal conditions after about 10 straight days of snow in the mountains. We wanted something with a quick approach, so it was back to Pink Pine, one of our favorite spots, for a few laps before the next round of the storm rolled in...

Cottonwood ridge behind me

Andrea was setting the pace today

A perfect spring day

Looking up Little Cottonwood Canyon. Snowbird wants to build a roller-coaster up there. It would ruin this view. Therefore we will not ski at Snowbird and give them any of our money. Disneyland is great, but it doesn't belong in the Central Wasatch.

Obvious avalanche activity (see the fracture line?) made us re-evaluate our original plan, head back down the ridge, and ski some lower-angled terrain...

... we still found some great snow. Here's Andrea dropping in. Judging by the smile on her face, she was enjoying this more than the race yesterday! :-)

We "only" skied 3 laps, because believe it or not we were a bit tired from the races yesterday, but we still managed to farm some excellent powder turns...

Yeah, the snowpack is pretty deep right now! We're going to have excellent skiing until 4th of July (at least we hope so!!!)

Another great day in the mountains. Now, back to training! :-)

March 26, 2011

Antelope Island Buffalo Run - Race Report

The final stretch of the Antelope Island 50K... 31 miles down, just a few hundred feet to go

The Antelope Island Buffalo Run 25K & 50K races were yesterday, and they went pretty darn well for both Andrea and I. In brief, Andrea was the 2nd female across the line in the 25K (4th place overall). She got outkicked in the finishing stretch, but still beat the old course record by six and a half minutes! In the 50K, I won the race and knocked over 10 minutes off the course record... a result I am quite proud of.

Andrea's race recap is below, followed by my recap of the 50K, and then some pictures...

Andrea's recap of the 25K:

After watching Jake take off in the 50k, I had about an hour to kill before the 25k started for me. By the time I walked to the car and back, I only had a 20 minutes to spare - perfect to stretch and do a few strides. I lined up at the front of the pack then we were off! I started up in the lead for the first couple of miles because no one seemed to want to set the pace. After the first big hill, one guy took off ahead of me. I realized that I drank too much because my stomach was cramping for 6-7 miles. I crossed paths with Jake at mile 3 - he was in the lead pack at that point. I tried to focus on my breathing before the next smaller but much steeper second hill at about mile 5. I think that I probably could've walked faster up that one!

I reached the first water station and was very disappointed to discover that it was a "help yourself" station. Usually in road races, the volunteers hand you water as you pass. Since this was also a station for the 50k, 50 mile, and 100 mile, runners typically have drop bags and stop to fuel themselves. Definitely a different scene than Jake and I are used to! I hate stopping during runs so I just ran right past. The next section was a long downhill - lots of pounding. From here on, there was a girl (Bethany) drafting right behind me for the remainder of the race. I had two more hills to go. The third was actually not too bad - gradual switchbacks then a long traverse back to the aid station again at the 10 mile mark. I decided it was probably a good idea to stop and get a drink so I didn't crash from dehydration.

I got to see Jake again as he was on that steep second hill (running side by side with another guy). At this point, I was feeling pretty tired and couldn't imagine running this course twice! I was just hoping that Jake had it in him to do another 1950 feet of vertical. I had one more short hill and then cruised down the last 4 miles. My back was getting really fatigued during these miles. Another guy flew past and I couldn't keep his pace - apparently he started late. I made it to the last 100 meters holding to the women's first place, but then Bethany surged. I couldn't match it, so I came in the finish in second place. Pretty happy with that! What a tough course. I told Jake that I didn't want two of those awful-looking buffalo trophies so I let her win :o)

By the time I changed and got the camera, Jake was ALREADY coming in to the finish in first place! I wasn't expecting him for another 10 minutes! He yelled to me "WHERE'S THE FINISH?!" and I could tell that he was ready to be done. After taking some pics, I jogged to the finish line to congratulate him on an awesome race. I am so proud of him!

25K Results

1 Chris Lundberg M 1:55:20.3
2 Justin Leavitt M 1:59:12.8
3 Bethany Lewis F 1:59:43.8 *New Course Record
4 Andrea North F 1:59:50.0 *Beat Old Course Record
5 Tom Pritchard M 2:00:26.3

(*Previous women's course record was 2:06:20)

Jake's recap of the 50K:

I'll be honest, I've been talking about winning this race and breaking the course record all winter (at least I've been telling Andrea time and time again that's what I planned to do). Still, I had no idea how I was going to fare, being that I've never raced longer than 15 miles, and never even run longer than 27 miles. When I got sick about a week & a half before the race, I started to get nervous, but I've been running 130 miles / week all winter and felt confident that I'd have the strength to pull this thing off.

Weather was perfect when we arrived on the island... cool, but not snowing or raining. A few minutes before the start, during the race director's pre-race briefing, he said something along the lines of "If you don't know where to go, just follow the guy who won last year, because he'll probably win again." He was referring to Nick Clark, who is an absolutely awesome runner and had shattered the course record a year ago, but the comment still really pissed me off and got me even more fired up to run.

The pace started off nice and slow for the first 4-5 miles. We had a pack of 6 that was down to 3 by the first aid station, and it was pretty clear to me that it was a 3-man race at that point... myself, Nick Clark, and Seth Wold. I knew who Nick was (a very accomplished ultra-runner who has won more than his share of 50 and 100 mile races, and also ran a 2:36 marathon last month). Seth was an unknown to me, but it was obvious that he was legit (I'd later find out that is a 2:22 marathoner). The three of us ran together for pretty much all of the first 25K loop (Nick and Seth would burn me on the downhills, and I'd catch back up on the flats and hills). I saw Andrea in the lead of the 25K race around the 12 mile mark of my race, which was encouraging and motivating. We hit the turnaround point in just over 1 hr 49 mins, well ahead of course record pace. From mile 16-18, while we climbed another 600 feet, Nick dropped off the pace. Now the real race had started and it was down to me and Seth...

After 20 miles (right after seeing Andrea again), we hit a long downhill stretch where Seth put a big gap on me. I just can't (and won't) run downhills that fast. I started to get nervous that I wouldn't have the speed to catch him. But on the next long uphill section (a series of huge switchbacks) I slowly but surely clawed back and made up the gap, and by mile 24 we were back together. Somewhere between mile 25-26 I dropped Seth and was out front, solo (well, not all that solo, considering I was dodging hundreds of 25K runners and lapping the 50K runners). In some ways it was annoying going around everyone, but catching and passing people kept me occupied and maybe prevented me from thinking about how I was hurting at that point. I didn't fall apart, though, on the final hill, and it was all downhill after 27.5 miles. I looked back several times for Seth and didn't see him, so I knew as long as I kept it together, I'd win the race... which is exactly what I did. Despite the fact that everything started to hurt by around mile 28-29, I knew the finish line was close, so I just kept hammering away.

When I got close to the end, I started to realize that my time was going to be well under Nick's record (and well under what I expected to be able to do). I finally hit the line in 3:38:02, a full 10 minutes faster than the old record. Seth finished strong in his first trail race (about 5 minutes behind me), and Nick came in under his time from last year as well. Kudos to both of those guys for running great races and pushing me all the way! I ended up running negative splits (1:49:08, 1:48:54).

This run really make me re-evaluate my goals for the rest of 2011. I'm off to a great start this year, and I think simply shooting for "around 2:30" in the marathon is really selling myself short. We'll see how things go as I make my transition back to shorter road races over the next couple months. But I'm also starting to realize that I might have the potential to have some major success in these long trail races. Running 3:38 for 50K (on a course that Nick thinks is actually a mile or so long), at altitude, and with 4000 feet of climbing, at the end of a week where I still ran over 100 miles (that's 19 straight!) makes me think I'm still far, far, far away from what I'm capable in these events.

Oh, and regarding the course... it was pretty hard. Lots of big climbs, but I was ready for them. Guess all that backcountry skiing is paying off as well!

And finally, I'm super-stoked for how Andrea battled and ran such a strong race. She won't admit it, but she was sick for several days leading up the race, and still came through with a solid performance on a very challenging course. I can't wait to see what she does at 5K/10K/Half-marathon the rest of this spring! She's been the main reason I'm running so well right now... she keeps me motivated, but also keeps me from doing anything stupid in my training... thanks babe! I dedicate the buffalo statue to YOU!

50K Results

1 Jake Krong M 3:38:02.3 *Course Record
2 Seth Wold M 3:43:30.9
3 Nick Clark M 3:47:59.0
4 Mike Foote M 4:03:09.6
5 Shaun Christian M 4:20:35.3

(*Previous course record was 3:48:12 by Nick Clark)

Start of the 50K

And off goes the herd, into the sun and up the first of many hills

Coming up the steep hill around mile 5... Seth, myself, and Nick (left to right)

Andrea somewhere between 3-4 miles into the 25K, looking strong!

Another nice shot of Andrea running with the Wasatch mountains in the background

Trying to finish strong!

Muddy legs

Andrea prefers to win money at races, and she recieved a plaque with a buffalo nickel... so, mission accomplished! :-)

The buffalo statue was the primary reason I ran 130 miles a week all winter

These big guys were all over the course

Buffalo statue home on the coffee table

This was the course elevation profile... it was 2 x 25K loops, so Andrea's race ended at the halfway point. The climbing wasn't necessarily that bad, it was the downhills that were painful!

And if you were wondering, we "slept in" until 7am the next day, went for a SLOW and painful run, and then went backcounty skiing. Here's the recap of our ski day.

March 22, 2011

Med students need powder days, too!

Hannah skiing down Mt Millicent

Hannah took a few much-needed days off from studying for med school boards and joined us for a long weekend. We skied at Brighton and Solitude, were treated with a powder day on Sunday, and for reasons we still can't figure out, the guy at TCBY gave each of us a half-pound of yogurt for free. It was a most excellent weekend!

Since it snowed off and on all weekend, I didn't bust out the big camera all that much, but we still got some good pics on the pocket point & shoot.

Hannah, Andrea, and I at Brighton

She knew coming into this that we'd make her hike, at least a little! :-)

Andrea on the shoulder of Millicent, using the new rando pack

Andrea skiing off the shoulder of Millicent

Hannah's turn

Some nice recycled powder

Naturally, I had to hike back up to ski the Elevator Chute. I skied it the previous week as well. Unfortunately it seemed like it avalanched during the last storm, so conditions weren't too great this time around

In the Elevator

Andrea and Hannah, with Mt Millicent behind

Wonderful powder day at Solitude

First few runs were completely untracked

Typical Solitude... great snow and no one around!

Even the western aspects were skiing great

Skiing down to Honeycomb Canyon

Andrea took most of the pics above... but she did ski too! :-)

Sunday's storm put us over 500 inches for the season. I think we're at ~520-525" right now (2 days later). Hopefully this means an extended season of spring skiing!!!

March 21, 2011

Tapering for the Antelope Island 50K

Running Times published an article about Josh McDougal last month. In the piece, he repeats what he said to his coach moments before the start of his victirious NCAA XC Championship race:

"There's only one way this can end. You know I have to win this."

I ran against Josh a few times in high school, and have always admired his work ethic and running ability, so I liked this quote a lot. It also sums up exactly how I feel about the 50K race this weekend. Now, I'm by no means saying that the Antelope Island run is 1/1000th as important as NCAA XCs (it might not even be that close!). However, I've put in a lot of mileage this winter (with a few solid race performances to show I am on the right track), and this race will sort of "cap" the base-building training block. I think I can take down 5K/10K/Half PRs in 2011, and pop a good marathon as well. However, Antelope Island comes first. Its been on the calendar since October, and now its finally here (on Saturday). I have no idea how I'm going to fare over 31 miles of trails (the longest run I've ever done is 27 miles of pavement!), and I really don't care exactly how fast I run (Course Record is 3:48:11, although who knows what the weather and trail conditions will be like), but you can bet that I'm running to win this darn thing!

I've been sick for the past week, and "only" ran 109 miles. I've generally felt lethargic, but I guess that's been the sickness more than anything else. This week I'm taking it pretty easy and probably allowing my streak of 18 x 100+mile weeks to come to an end. I want to have some pop in my legs on Saturday, and not only be able to run fast, but hopefully recover quickly too.

If anyone is wondering about my plan in terms of eating and staying hydrated... well, I don't really have a good one. Starburst jelly beans are going to be the energy source of choice, and I don't think I'm carrying or stashing drink bottles anywhere. I'm just going to rely on getting some good old fashioned H2O at the aid stations.

I took this picture last June when Andrea & I went to Antelope Island. Hopefully there aren't too many of these guys out on the trails this weekend! :-)

March 17, 2011

Tennessee Family Visit

Our big crew at Brighton

Andrea's family made their way from Tennessee out to Utah last weekend, so we took a long-weekend "stay-cation" with them in Park City. We skied at the The Canyons, Park City, and Brighton on consecutive days in mostly excellent (warm) weather, took full advantage of the condo's hot tub, and realized how lucky we are to NOT have to do all of our running at 7000 feet! I didn't bust out the camera as much as I usually do, but here's a few I got...

The Canyons "Orange Bubble" chairlift. It has heated seats. Luxury overkill? Or should ALL chairlifts be like this? :-)

The scenery from the Great Western lift at Brighton is top-notch

We had some nice warm days. I love eating lunch outside during the winter.

Andrea and her parents

Some groomer action shots...

Eventually I decided that I needed to boot it up to Mt. Millicent

I skied the "Elevator Chute," which is the obvious line identified by the red dots

Looking down after I entered the chute and made 4-5 turns...

...and looking back up

Andrea shot this pic of me in the chute, after making my way through the choke...

...and then opening it up on the apron

Here's to more stormy nights and blue sky days!

Quick Antelope Island update: As I write this, the 50K and 25K races are 8 days away. We put in solid weeks last week (139 miles with a 27 mile long run for me, 63 miles with a 16 mile long run for Andrea), and now we're cutting it back a bit so we go into this with (hopefully) fresh legs. I hate tapering... it just makes me feel lousy (although that is probably more due to the fact that I was running an intermittent fever for the past couple days). I suppose the "hay is in the barn" and a little rest is probably more important than another long run at this point (for both of us). I think we're ready!