Archive for July, 2008

Speedgoat 50K Race Report

July 27th, 2008

Speedgoat 50K

  • Speedgoat 50K – 7/26/2008 – Snowbird, Utah

About 115 runners gathered at the base of the Snowbird Tram around 6:15 for pre-race instructions. The morning brought rather warm but manageable temperatures. I was excited to start, but definitely a little nervous. After Logan Peak 28 miler a month ago (or the Crash and Burn 28 miler as I refer to it), I was curious to see how I’d do in my 2nd mountain ultra.

Karl Meltzer, the RD of the Speedgoat 50K, counted down from 10, and we were off. Known as the toughest 50K in the US, the first 8.2 miles of the race climbs from about 7,500 ft. up to 11,000 ft. to the top of Hidden Peak, where the Snowbird Tram ends. Given my performance at Logan Peak and my lack of time spent at over 9K feet, I decided to take the first half of the race relatively slow, and pick it up after that depending on the conditions.

Speedgoat 50K Elevation Profile

Around mile 1.5 or so, pre-race nerves got to me a little bit, and I upchucked some Gatorade and a Clif Shot block I had just eaten.  Not a great start! However, I felt instantly better after the fact (boot and rally, anyone?) From there on out, despite the long climb up, I felt pretty good. I hiked most of it, but ran some when I felt good. I reached the top of Hidden Peak in 2:24. Slow, but definitely felt comfortable. After a bathroom break, a few snacks and a little light-headedness, I hit the trail again to head downhill towards Mary Ellen Gulch aid station at mile 14.5 at 7.5K ft. elevation.

The downhill felt pretty good. After a quick rollercoaster run up down Hidden Peak and back up Mt. Baldy, we travelled down a very steep downhill equipped with ropes and assistance from Black Diamond. I generally take my sweet time on sections of trail like this, and I went especially slow as the volunteers said someone had just fallen. After the climb down this steep section, I passed the runner who had fallen; a good amount of blood on her head, and definitely not looking in the best of shape. She was being helped by 4 other folks, and they seemed to have the incident under control, so I pushed on. I never heard what had happened, but I do hope everything turned out alright!

The next 5 miles were all downhill. Every now and then, I would turn around just to see the top of Hidden Peak in the Speedgoat 50K - Hidden Peakdistance getting further away. Stinks that we have to climb back up! After a nice spill running downhill too fast, I hit the Mary Ellen Gulch aid station in about 4 hours flat. Feeling good and knowing full well that a large climb was ahead of us, I fueled up, took out the sunglasses and bandana, and it the road. The hike to the next aid station was 3 miles up and one mile down according to the folks at the aid station, which seemed accurate. I felt good up to this point, and was glad I saved enough energy to hit the 2nd half of the race feeling great.

The climb back up to Mineral Bottom (water only) aid station had treated me well. I passed about 10 folks, and felt great all the way up. 18 miles down, about 13 to go. The next 2.5 mile would lead up a little more to the tunnel aid station at mile 20.5. I hit the Tunnel aid station in about 6 hours. I grab a quick bite to eat, and enjoy a small conversation with volunteers before I headed back out.

This is where things took a turn. I had been enjoying the race up to this point, and felt comfortable. We were only about 500 feet from the top of the ridge, and I had the impression that the next 5 miles to the next aid station were going to be along a ridge, or on relatively flat ground. With the last 5 miles being all downhill, I had thoughts of finishing the race in 8 or 8 ½ hours. As soon as we exited the other side of the tunnel, we headed down. The downhill would not stop, and I was starting to get a little concerned about the uphill that would follow.

Finally the uphill came, and it was one heck of a trail on a ridge, heading straight towards the top of Hidden Peak. I could see the peak getting closer and closer, and I was craving some sugar like no other. Maybe some solid food. Maybe a cold Mtn. Dew! I had some gels in my pocket but I figured I wouldn’t need them as I could see the peak in the distance that held the last aid station. Plus, with nausea returning, I didn’t want to risk trying to stomach a gel, and throw it back up. About 100 feet from the top, I pass a hiker. She then says “great job… about a mile and a half to the next aid station!”

I had no idea that once we reached the top, we had to take another dip in elevation and climb switchbacks in some snow before we got to the top. Talk about a false front! I was completely devastated… it was like a dagger in my heart. With the switchbacks in front of me after jogging down the hill, I filled up my water bottle with a stream created by snowmelt. I drank some, and poured some over my head. I was not looking forward to the next climb. Granted this next climb would be the last 1K climb of the day, bonking at the bottom of it kinda sucked. I took a gel and a 3 minute break on a rock, and climbed halfway up the switchbacks. After about 500 feet up, I took another break and another gel. Cooperating with my stomach, I finally pushed on, and eventually reached the top. Those 6 miles that I had thought would just be lollygagging on top of the ridge ended up being a 140 minute death march.

I sat down at the top of Hidden Peak for about 10-15 minutes. My legs felt good, but I had 0 energy. Fully well knowing that the last miles to the finish were all downhill, I was confident that as long as I could get my ass out of the chair, I’d get to the finish. Feeling a little sick, I decided to suck it up, and head out of the aid station.

Speedgoat 50K Finish LineThe last 5 miles were bliss. It was all downhill, and I passed the 5 folks that passed me in the aid station. Like I said, my legs felt great and the downhill was awesome. I stopped to take in some of the views, finally knowing for the first time in the race that I’d finish it feeling pretty good. As I got closer to the bottom, I could smell the barn, picking up speed. After a long 9 hours and 27 minutes on the trail, I cross the finish line, happy to be done, and feeling pretty good.

The Speedgoat 50K was definitely the toughest 50K that I have done. Rather than underestimating the later miles in the race, I was rather happy with my performance. With that being said, I am still getting used to the altitude difference. I still find myself breathing hard at the top of climbs, and my heart still races when I run over 10K feet. In the 4 weekends leading up to this race, I did a lot of hiking and running, putting in tons of elevation gain between 8K and 11K elevation. Without that specialized training, I definitely would have struggled much more. With my second mountain ultra behind my belt, I am looking forward to my third!

Despite training going well as of the last month, and feeling like I could have kept moving after the race, I will be putting my plans of running a 100 miler on hold until further notice. Though I finished Logan Peak a month ago, and even felt good yesterday crossing the finish line, I am still not running at the level I’d like to be. I also have to figure out this nausea problem. Getting sick at the top of the mountain at 11K due to altitude is one thing, but getting sick 2 miles into the race? I’ve got to figure something out. I’ll be smoothing out the kinks in the weeks ahead, with the intention to maybe get a race or two in before November hits.

As you are all probably well aware, Karl Meltzer is going to begin his AT Assault in about a week’s time, so I will definitely look forward to that. Remember, you’ll be able to follow all progress of his 2175 mile trek at WheresKarl.com.

Legs after the Speedgoat 50K
Karl and his volunteers pulled off a great event. Very challenging and very scenic. Definitely recommended for anyone looking for a challenge. I ran Mountain Masochist 50 Miler about twenty months ago in about 10 hours and 20 minutes, only an hour slower than this 50K. It definitely puts the two races in comparison. Have no doubt though, the winner of the Speedgoat 50K finished in 5 hours and 43 minutes… unbelievable to me!

Thanks for reading!

Working on that farmer’s tan

July 15th, 2008

I guess what the title says – that’s kinda what I have been doing since Logan Peak…

Actually, a lot has been going on. Definitely in the good way. First off, I was correct in saying that Logan Peak didn’t slow down my training, if anything it helped. It was a great wake up call like I stated, but I was back on the trails 2 days after the race, picking up where I left off. The July 4th weekend gave me the opportunity to put in plenty of training, and plenty of climb. I enjoyed a nice “speed hike” on the 4th, exploring the web of trails in my backyard. Saturday and Sunday brought 3+ hour long runs. Over those 3 days I put in about 14.5k of elevation gain.

It’s a good deal I got going on -The Canyons ski resort being in my backyard and all. Reasons being that it is free to take the gondola down the mountain, which is open every weekend through September. There are some great trails and forest roads that lead up to the gondola, and each trip up there is about 1,800 feet elevation gain. Good training. With that being said, I have been working on my “uphill power hike form”. If I want to do well, or at least finish, this thing called Speedgoat 50K in 10 days (damn, 10 day already?), I gotta accept the fact that I will be walking a lot.

This past weekend I put in a 5 hour run on Saturday that included running from my apartment up to the Wasatch Crest trail, lollygagging around 10K feet for a few hours, and coming back down. Felt great. The scenery definitely distracted me from the tired legs. Sunday was followed by a hard two hour run, which included a 2,700 ft. climb on the north side of The Canyons, ended by a sprint on the Mid-Mountain trail towards the gondola.

A few hours ago I completed a good 90 minute run that included an 1,800 ft climb, followed by a decent on the Holly’s Downhill trail (the gondola is closed on Mondays and Tuesdays). For those of you who have run down Holly’s Downhill trail, you know its 30 minutes of pure bliss.

This weekend is the last weekend before the Speedgoat 50K – as a “taper” I’ll be enjoying a 4 day backpacking trip in the High Uinta Wilderness, camping and hiking between 10K and 12K feet elevation (maybe it will help with elevation sickness I had at Logan Peak?)

Yeah… I love vacations 🙂

I am also going to be visiting family in August, as we have a family reunion beach get-together every year. I am looking forward to that very much so!

Finally, I am very excited to say that I will be taking a week off in early September to help crew for Karl Meltzer during his Appalachian Trail speed attempt. If you haven’t noticed by now, I am not a big fan of talking about my job on my blog (even though its a kick ass job!). Not that I am that dumb to post stuff in a negative light about my job in which people from my company can see, I just prefer to completely leave it off my blog.

However I’d like to make an exception in this case as Backcountry.com (who is sponsoring Karl Meltzer to attack the AT from Maine to Georgia starting August 5th) is sponsoring some employees to assist, crew, and work behind the scenes. I happened to fall on that list after much waited anticipation! I am very, very excited to be a part of history, and part of a company that can give an amazing athlete like Karl an opportunity as such.Where’s Karl?

The world will be able to follow Karl’s progress online at WheresKarl.com, which will be updated daily with pictures, videos, news, gear reviews, thoughts, updates, and so much more. It’s going to be awesome – I am very excited! I am unfortunately missing the weekend when the Mid-Mountain Marathon and the Wasatch 100 are being run, but most definitely worth it!

That’s all I got – definitely a lot of great things to look forward to! And oh yeah, I started up guitar lessons again, watch out flatpickers of America – I’m gonna be dangerous! 🙂