Friday, January 13, 2012

Change of Plans

As it turns out, I missed registration for the Angeles Crest 100, which was going to be my big focus race in the summer.  I had no idea how quick the slots would fill..  So, I decided to register for the Ice Age 50 in hopes of qualifying for Western States.  That is the goal now and I'm pumped for May 12th.  There have already been some good names on the registered list.

If I finish in the top 2 at this...
I get to run this...
I've updated my 2012 Race Schedule at the top of my blog - take a look!


Wednesday, January 11, 2012

2012 Frozen Sasquatch 50k Race Report

After last years race, I wrote in my blog that "I would like to see what someone could run if the ground was dry for once.  Maybe next year?"  The 2012 version of Frozen Sasquatch lived up to my delineated idea, as the unusually warm January weather from the Ohio River Valley followed my 1hr 40min drive to the Kanawha State Forest.  My goal was to break the course record of 4:30:42, ran by Eric Grossman in 2010.
Clouds rolling back as RD Mike Dolin blows the train whistle.  Photo by Dan Todd

John Williams IV, a Chalahgawtha friend and fellow SSU alum, used Frozen Sasquatch as his ultra running debut and we had a gratifyingly communal and epic run together for the better part of 31 miles.  We started out in a pack of a half dozen runners, chit-chatting about the past year and year to come, and kept a relaxed and controlled pace for the first few miles.
After the first aid station, John and I kept rolling through and we separated ourselves from the rest of the runners - it would be a two man race that point onward.  We were having so much fun that our hard pace was seemingly unnoticeable and taking in the mossy foliage and slick outcroppings seemed to be the duty of our day.  At one point close to the end of the first 25k loop, John stopped to water the ground and I kept going - I wondered if I would see him again.

I came through the halfway point at a quick 2:02:11!  This time was faster than the my 25k course record from 2010 by over 5 minutes... I was shocked to see this time on my watch.  Shortly after heading up the beginning hill, I looked back and John was back with me.  We both remarked about how fast our first loop was and John hinted at the idea of going sub-4.  At that point for me, the thought of running another 15 miles under 2 hours was far fetched.

The onset of rain made for some slick downhill running and I obliged to let John slide in front of me.  John stopped to fill his bottle and I again took the solo lead - thinking this time there was no way John would catch back up.  This was his first ultra after all!  

After grinding up a long hill, I felt the serenity of the forest and the acute solitude I had in my personal boundary on the Kanawha ridge-line.  The sun was softly coming over the rainclouds and the ethereal feeling was putting a giddy feeling in my one-two step.  I traversed through the slick singletrack not looking at my watch.  When I came back into the present I looked over my shoulder and noticed John was in my sight.  He quickly caught up to me and with 3 miles to go, we were running together again, faster than any other point in the race.

This became a bit of intense trail running as neither of us let up on pushing hard.  With common respect, we both wanted to win.  Scurrying over roots and leaping off of rocks, we did not say much to each other.  I continued to lead and wanted to last until the finishing 800 meter downhill - I had been killing the downhills all day.  We approached the last hill and I took off as hard as I could and gapped John a little and finished with a 4:05:03 making the second lap 2:02:41, a near even split.  John finished a mere 40 seconds behind me in a very impressive first ultra.  
The overall day was so much fun.  I knew John had some incredible fitness built up but I never expected to be running sub-6 miles in the last 3 miles of a 50k!  If he wasn't pushing me, the time would of been a whole lot slower.  Be looking for John IV in the ultra-running elite crowd in the coming years!  

Running over 30 minutes faster than last years race was a huge confidence booster for the upcoming 2012 year.  I'm looking forward to continuing my fitness and more enjoyable races in the coming months.
 Race Director Mike Dolin, myself, and JohnIV.  Photo by Mike Dolin


Tuesday, January 3, 2012

2012 (planned) Race Schedule

I find it quite futile to sit here and write a blog about a year race schedule.  Last year I planned on a schedule and it didn’t nearly shape up to how I envisioned – due to many changes throughout the year.  Trail-running is growing so rapidly that any given weekend one can find a race to run (especially in certain regions of the States.)  The elite runners are even seeing a growth in races offering prize money and that is sure to make some people reconsider the races they place on their schedule.  Then, there are the races with no prize money but with a deep and rich history that are perpetually appealing to any runner.

For me, since I am living in Virginia now, a whole new list of races will be readily available that weren’t last year.  So far, this is what I have on my list of races that I am fairly certain on running:

  • January 7:  Frozen Sasquatch 50k – Ran in this race the past two years and have always enjoyed the people and course.
  • June 2:  TNF EC Washington D.C. Regional 50 Mile – One of North Face's regional races that has seen some good competition the past few years.       
  • July 21:  Angeles Crest 100 Mile – Since I was not selected to Western States, I really wanted to find a 100 miler in the West and the more I read and learned about AC, the more I want to do this.  It has one of the stoutest course records around, set in 1989 (my birth year), and is said to be a spectacular course.
(Edited 1/11/2012 - Ok, so a few days after I wrote this post, I found out Angeles Crest has already closed registration - it is full already... I was a few days too late it seems.  Looking for a new summer 100 miler.)
  • September 29:  Ultra Race of Champions (UROC) 100k – Really liked my experience at UROC this past year (even for being a DNF) and will look forward to going back to avenge last year’s performance.  Plus, it is only an hour from Lynchburg!
  • December 1:  TNF EC Championship in San Francisco – This is a really long time from now but everyone is doing this thing and I thoroughly enjoyed the race, course, and experience in 2010.

Those are races that I know I will be running or really plan on focusing throughout the year.  Here are some other races that I am considering:

February 11:  Holiday Lake 50k
March 24:  Terrapin Mountain 50k
April 28:  Promise Land 50k
May 5:  TNF EC New York Regional 50 Mile
May 12:  Ice Age 50 Mile (*If I for some reason decide to try and qualify for WS at the last second)
November 3:  Mountain Masochist 50 Mile