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Not Quite Ready to HURT

It's never easy to decide against doing a race when you are healthy and fit. Harder still is pulling the plug on one of your absolute favorite events that you've had nothing but success at.

It's taken me quite some time to come to terms with this, but I won't be lining up at the HURT 100 in just under one month's time. If you follow me on any training sites such as Strava or Movescount you've probably been thinking "what the hell, is he not posting his workouts right now" (I realize none of you are paying that much attention but let's pretend).

As a quick visual reference above, I gave it a solid shot upon returning from South Africa on December 1st, but by December 10th I was questioning my decision in pursuing HURT in such a close time frame to the Salomon Skyrun (the triple on the 7th is actually a double in which I stopped my watch early).

I've struggled mightily with motivation over the last ten days so I went ahead and got blood work done to ensure I wasn't facing any base line issues with ferritin (iron) or anything else for that matter. I received my results yesterday and my numbers were up across the board, as in it was the best baseline blood work I've actually had in many years, at least since I started training harder. I was kinda hoping for the opposite in which I'd be able to see what was causing my fatigue, and really in the end, that told me all that I needed to know. It's time for a break right now. Thankfully there are no injuries and no baseline blood indication of issues, so those two things are to be celebrated I guess.

Through further assessment I realize that I usually take scheduled downtime in the fall and then ramp up for HURT through a huge mileage push in December. The fact that I somehow hoped I could pull off one of the hardest 100km races out there in the Salomon Skyrun (a difficult 13h46m effort) and then turn around and tackle one of the hardest 100 mile races out there just 8 weeks later was a bit of a pipe dream.

The hardest part about this is that I'm confident I could show up in Hawaii and still have a very good, even great race, just piggy backing off of my current fitness. However, I no longer make race to race, month to month decisions like I used to. I step back, assess a year or more, and ensure I'm taking care of my body and my mind/soul/heart in all that I do. My mind needs this more than my body, and in the end the mind gets what the mind wants. You take the good with the bad and the strength with the weakness. There are a series of cheques and balances that need to be met, and I'm currently tapping into my overdraft. It's there, it works, but it's never a good idea to do so.

On the bright side, MORE WINE, MORE BEACH, MORE FUN, LESS STRESS...hey, wait a sec, why haven't I thought of this before?

Merry Christmas to each of you, I hope Santa is good to you this week.



Alpental, WA - My First Ever Skimo Race

The after party and the fresh snow goodness
The Sport

Ski Mountaineer racing, or Skimo for short, is by no means a new sport having even been a part of an Olympic Games way back in 1948. The European Skimo circuit is thriving and has produced a cross over athlete who's taken the trail and ultra running world by storm over the last few years, that person of course being Kilian Jornet, a multi time World Ski Mountaineering Champion.

Skimo racing in North America has been slower to catch on, and as observed by Kilian himself via an early season tour of some US ski resorts, not widely understood or accepted. It was completely shocking to him that the majority of US ski resorts had strict rules in place that prevent skiing up the mountain, whereas in Europe this is apparently the standard with resorts having a set 'skin track' area (you use climbing skins on your skis to ascend the mountain).

It would appear that the North American Skimo scene is ripe for a bit of a boon in the next few years as the reverse scenario to Europe seems to be occurring, that being trail and ultra running stand outs now converting to Ski Mountaineering and Skimo racing during the winter months. Names worth mentioning in this regard include recent UROY winner Rob Krar, Colorado based Skyrunning Champion Stevie Kremer, Canadian speedster Adam Campbell, and as of this past weekend Oregonian Max King. I would be remiss if I did not mention one of the few North American, ski mountaineering to ultra running crossover athletes Luke Nelson, as he was the US National Champion in 2012.

With many of these known trail and ultra runners coming into the sport, with strong established racing and endurance backgrounds, it seems only a matter of time before at least some of them dedicate themselves towards figuring out the intricacies of the sport of ski mountaineering. The presence of these athletes alone however is granting Skimo racing a social media presence in front of an active audience that it seemingly has failed to connect with to date. It'll be interesting if the North American version of the sport can experience a long overdue growth cycle and if in fact the current push to attempt to bring Skimo back into the Olympics (currently a push is on for 2018) can ever materialize.

Skimo is similar to trail running in that you basically race up and down a mountain as fast as you can. Skimo is very different from trail racing in terms of how that's accomplished and the skill sets necessary to do so at an effective race pace. To be an elite level racer you must possess equal parts of aerobic capacity, a finesse at technical ski climbing, and a confidence that borders on reckless abandon at the high speed descents. I possess two of these three skill sets, having been an endurance sports athlete since 2004, and having established a firm grip on reckless abandon style skiing via many years as a ski bum in Banff, AB in the late 90's and then Whistler, BC in the early 2000's. Of all these skill sets I would say that the downhill skiing is certainly the hardest to develop from scratch and as such the sport certainly favors those with at least some background in skiing specific sports, whether that be nordic or alpine.

As a gear intensive sport Skimo is certainly not a cheap endeavor. A top of the line race kit will cost you north of $3000, and that's just for the skis, boots, bindings, skins and poles. Tack on a racing pack, mandatory helmet, spandex racing suit or whatever works for you to not line up in your birthday suit, goggles, gloves etc, and you'll be toeing the fine line of what you want, what you need, and what you can actually afford.

This being my first season of looking at the sport of skimo, and a kind of reentry into skiing in general after an absence of six years, I already owned much of the 'this'll work if it has to' style gear. My goal was to get into the sport on the cheap this year while acquiring gear that would ideally allow me to get a feel for it all without going broke. I lucked out in early October with a pair of 'last pair in stock' sale skis at M.E.C. for just $150. They were a few levels below a racing ski but light enough to race on. I used some wedding present R.E.I. gift certificates for my touring poles and I found a pair of bindings on Craigslist, again just below race caliber gear. Lastly I invested in a year old pair of boots for a great deal from a friend for $400. The boots new would be nearly $1000, and yet again the gear was a few levels below top of the line racing gear, in which the boots alone can crawl north of $2000 for brand new off the shelf. I passed on the $300+ spandex racing suit in favor quiver I already possessed in the form of some Salomon tights, a lightweight breathable pant, a merino wool top, and my Salomon S-Lab Light Jacket. Salomon also set me up with some ski goggles and when all was said and done I had found my way into the sport for JUST $775.

The Race

I'm 4th from the left

The race was at Alpental, WA, which is located at Snowqualmie Pass, about an hour out of Seattle. The race course consisted of two climbs and two descents with vertical numbers of approximately 4200ft / 1300m over a distance of about 8m/13km. Alpental has apparently always attracted quite a few recreational skies to the race and as such the race director announced that they were the largest skimo race by attendance in the US. I have not confirmed this information but with nearly 150 people around it certainly made for a great atmosphere.

Three of the four guys I've been ski touring with, and learning the sport from this winter were also in attendance, and all of them were podium threats. They have generously offered up racing tips and advice over the last four months and as such when the gun went off I knew we supposedly had to sprint out on our skis for position before the race fell into a single pace line. This effectively felt like running a 100m sprint race before then settling in for back to back 10k race pace efforts that were somehow split up by a bobsled ride down a mountain, to create a visual if you will.

White helmet, green pack

The race was all of sixty seconds old and I already had that nice metallic taste in my mouth that you can experience at near maximal efforts, BUT I found myself settled nicely into 8th place, with a pretty stellar field of experienced guys ahead of me. The pace settled and I felt good as our group started to pull away from the field within the first five minutes of the race. As the terrain steepened it necessitated switchback style climbing. The guys would say to me after the race this this Alpental course was one of the more technical courses on the circuit. I was nailing my kick-turns, which made me happy since I didn't even know what a kick-turn was just a few months prior (picture taking a tight singletrack turn with two extended planks on your feet, your lower leg turns into the turn leaving you V legged, you then have to kick your heal into your upper slope ski to force it to pivot up towards your toe and hence to swing the ski up and over the snowpack above you so that you can get both feet around) but I was starting to slip and loose traction on the climbing between the corners. The terrain was effectively just a smidgen steeper than I was comfortable with and balanced on, and after multiple small slip steps backwards the worst case scenario unfolded. I slid back with both skis, toppled to one side and ejected from a ski. I looked up as the lead pack left me in their snow dust. I fumbled about before realizing I needed to get both skis off. I clicked out and then boot packed my way up to a flat spot to place my skis back on. Lost spots = three as I had recovered just as the next group of skiers caught up to me, so I was now in 11th. This scenario unfortunately unfolded a second time just a bit further along and I was in 15th before I knew what had happened. My lack of experience was glaringly evident.

I was now behind guys that were moving slower in general, but who weren't making any mistakes as they went. I kept looking uphill for when an opportunity might present itself to pass some people and it appeared we were coming upon a wide ski run where the terrain flattened out a bit. I put in a push as soon as the trail opened up and I immediately passed and gapped three guys while pushing hard over this wide flat section of the course. I was back in 12th. We skied past a chairlift, back into the forest, took a hard turn to the right and started in on some switchbacks again. I stared up at the next group of guys who were four corners ahead of and went to work on closing the gap. Thankfully with the fresh snow falling, and now being further up the mountain, the icy conditions of the lower part of the hill were behind us. I was no longer struggling with traction and as we approached our first bootpacking section (skis off your feet, onto your backpack, as you climb what are effectively stairs in the snow that are cut out from ski boots, IE very steep terrain) As we removed our skis for the bootpack I caught up to the guys who'd passed me after my first mishap lower down the mountain.

I knew by general time in my head that we must be on the upper reaches of the first ascent and just a few minutes later I was able to peer up into the now blowing snow above and see where our transition area to the descent would occur. I could see two people pulling their skins, two more just arriving, and there were two guys immediately in front of me. Sixth place was effectively within site. We all pushed the pace up to the transition area and I was completely stoked over my transition as I out transitioned one of the guys who'd arrived ahead of me and I departed down the slope immediately behind the other racer I'd arrive with. I was now in 11th and I was now in my element.

I made short work of the descent, successfully toeing the line between recklessly in control and yard saleing. I scooped up 10th in our first rutted out bowl, 9th as I kept my speed through the following steep section, 8th as we found ourselves on the bottom half of the descent as the snow became icier again, and 7th on the final approach into the start/finish gate. Game on!

The Bell Lap

I had a great transition back into my climbing skins but made a critical error. I had been advised that a single set of climbing skins would not last a full race. Meaning that eventually the glue that adheres the skin to the ski would fail due to the careless way in which you have to rip and store your skins while racing, getting them covered in snow and effectively causing the skin to freeze up. I KNEW I should reach into my back pocket of my pack and switch into my backup skins. I got caught up in the moment of the guys I'd just passed coming in behind me and I threw my slightly compromised initial set of skins right back on the skis. I raced out of there with but one guy getting ahead of me and as the now 7th and 8th place racers we created a gap over the guys behind us.

This side of the course was much different in that the climbing was not only steep but much of it was done through fresh snow, meaning there was a 'loosness' to things if you will. The guy ahead of me faltered and I for once made up a spot due to someone else's struggle. This was not to last long however as I could now see the back 1/4 of my right skin wasn't even attached to my ski anymore, it was dangling off to the side and with each step up I was loosing additional tack between my skins and my skis. I slipped backwards, I fell over, and I went about my Bambi snow show as I clicked my skis off. I then bootpacked in knee deep snow up to a flat spot, and made the hard but necessary call to do a full skin switch. I attempted to zone out and focus on the task at hand, but my peripheral would not grant me this luxury. 8th - 9th - 10th - 11th all went gliding by and in that span I managed to get rattled and loose focus. I simply could not get my one ski boot to click into my bindings. Every time I stepped on the ski it shifted in the snow, click - miss - shit, click - miss - shit, click - miss - shit "C'MON GARY!" on my sixth attempt I got my ski back on. There was no one in sight above me, and no one in site below me, and we were all of about fifteen minutes from being done.

With the new skin on I found the necessary traction and fell into a nice rhythm, clicking out kick-turns and gaining elevation towards our final transition. As the upper part of the mountain presented itself I could see one skier up ahead of me. I pushed towards the turnaround, transitioned faster than him, and found myself in 10th. Nothing but downhill ahead. I had no idea of where any of those who passed me on the climb might now be but I leaned into the descent with fleeting hopes of finding one or more of them.

Half way down as my quads were screaming at me I hooked a ski. Instinctively I raised my leg to sweep my ski back around to center before it could catch on the snow below and send me for a tailspin. I chuckled to myself. This sport is awesome I thought. Just a few minutes later I flew through the final turn of the race and a ski patroller directed me down the last straight stretch to the bottom. I could just make out a racer half way down so I straighlined it in the hopes of catching him, I made up all but three seconds on the guy, but it turned out he was in the short distance event. Oh well, 10th place in 1h44m and my head is reeling from all that I learned on the day and all that there is still to learn. I can't wait to do it all over again!

Huge congrats to Nick Elson for placing 2nd, Eric Carter for 3rd, and Stano Faban for 5th. Stano was just bettered by a few seconds by some guy named Max King (a life long skier, 2h14m marathoner, World Mountain Running Champion, famous ultra runner and now first time Skimo racer as well). It's an exciting time for Skimo in North America, here's hoping for plenty of growth within the sport in the coming years.

Fuel: 200ml water mixed with one Hammer gel and a half dozen scoops of snow.


If you find yourself free and with nothing better to do this Tuesday night, Feb 18th, you should swing on by the Salomon West Vancouver store and check out some films and slides while I wax poetic about ultra running. Link here



HURT 100 - Follow Along

If you're interested in following along during this Saturday's HURT 100 here are a few useful links:

My Twitter Feed that Linda will update through my first 80 miles (she'll be pacing a friend after that)

My 2013 Race Report via IRunFar

My 2010 Race Report

Personally, I'm busting at the seams a little bit right now. I'm excited to lay one out there this weekend and I feel like even though I came down with a chest cold at what I thought was the absolute worst time, right at the end of November, I managed to get past it at just the right time, near the end of December. My training through the back half of December and into the first week of January was flawless and going into this weekend I am 100% fit, healthy, rested and without excuse. It's time to race!

A few of my favorite pictures from the last few months of playing outside




Run Real Fast At UTMF - Music That Matters

The Great Buddha Kamakura - Age 761 Years - Height 13.4 meters - Weight 121 tonnes
I've gotten into the habit through my last few long distance runs, usually of 100 miles in length or more, of making a play list called "Run Real Fast At (insert race/fkt attempt here)"

Music is a powerful motivator and since 'discovering' its true benefits while running, more specifically during my final 20 miles at Western States 2010, I've set out to become a more educated and engaged listener.

I posed the question on Facebook just 24 hours before we departed for Japan,

"Name ONE SONG you currently love to run to"

There were almost 100 responses and some great insights into what can drive and motivate people while they're out there slogging along. It's clear the majority of us not only love to run to music but we love hearing what others love to listen to as well.

I simply ran out of time to even YouTube all the suggestions, let alone download/purchase/upload new music to my UTMF playlist.  In the end I added a few newbies to my personal playlist and will look to add more in over time.

In the interest of a music sharing style posting I'll continue to do this prior to other big races throughout the year. Hopefully you'll find some new tunes to run to, and please do share your own personal favorites for future reference as well.

I should preface this playlist by saying that there's a decent amount of music in here that I'd really never listen to otherwise. Songs such as Gangnam Style, I Know You Want Me, Barbara Streisand, and Welcome To The Jungle may pump me up late in 100 mile efforts but I'd likely turn towards something more along the lines of Alt-J, Tame Impala, Local Natives, Stereophonics, Phoenix, Imagine Dragons, or Mumford & Sons on a daily basis right now.

Monarcy Of Roses - Chili Peppers
A Tattered Line Of String - Postal Service
Junk Of The Heart - The Kooks
Juliette - Hollerado
Home - Philip Philips
Sergio's Trio - DJ Champion
Marching Bands Of Manhatten - Death Cab For Cutie
Radioactive - Imagine Dragons
Burn It Down - Linkin Park
Ten Thousand Hours - Macklemore and Lewis
ABC Theme Remix - Pendulum
Highway To Hell - AC/DC
Barbara Streisand - Duck Sauce
Time To Run - Lord Huron (thanks Melanie Sakowski)
What I Got - Sublime
I Will Follow You Into The Dark - Death Cab
This Too Shall Pass - OK Go
Under The Bridge - Chili Peppers
Can't Hold Us - Macklemore and Lewis (thanks Luke and Laura and Anita)
You Shook Me All Night Long - AC/DC
Enter Sandman - Metallica 
Bohemian Rhapsody - Queen
On Top Of The World - Imagine Dragons
Love Like A Sunset - Phoenix
How You Like Me Now - The Heavy
Thrift Shop - Macklemore and Lewis
Stronger - Kanye West
Anna Sun - Walk The Moon
One More Mile - Paper Tongues (thanks Douglas)
The Funeral - Band Of Horses
It's Time - Imagine Dragons
Money Maker - The Black Keys
Reno Chunk - Hollerado
Bloodbuzz Ohio - The National
In Your Light - Gotye
Keep On Ridin - DJ Champion
Invincible - OK Go
The House That Heaven Built - Japandroids (thanks Ross)
Little Lion Man - Mumford & Sons
Otherside - Chili Peppers
Gangnam Style - PSY
Connected - Stereo MC's
Bodyrock - Moby
Aeroplane - Chili Peppers
Fire - Kasabian
Entertainment - Phoenix
Sacrilege - Yeah Yeah Yeahs
Violins and Trambourines - Stereophonics
Walk This Walk - Aerosmith & RUN DMC
We Are Young - Fun
Somewhere Only We Know - Keane (thanks Josh)
We Got The Love - I Mother Earth
Madness - Muse
The Pot - Tool
I Know You Want Me - Pitbull
King Eternal - TV On The Radio (thanks Ed)
Typical - MuteMath
Well Thought Out Twinkies - Silversun Pickups
Welcome To The Jungle - Guns and Roses
It's Tricky - RUN DMC

Incense Offering To The Great Buddha

3 days 12 hours and 30 minutes until we head off into the night around Mt. Fuji!




Up To Here (PhotoBlog)

The last six weeks have gone really well. Though I've wanted to blog a bunch and I have numerous postings written in my head, the untold story of being a race director (especially of multiple events now) is that you just generally spend a lot of time working on your computer. Given that I've never held a desk job or anything remotely close to a job that forced me to sit down for any extended period of time, it's been quite the adjustment. I have found that spending so many additional hours working online has effectively quelled my blogging and other 'online for pleasure' ways...ummm, that can be read many, many different ways...being online now for five, six or seven hours a day is effectively three, four, or five hours longer than I'm used to. The motivation to then sit in front of a screen afterwards is lacking to say the least.

March was a great month of training. With a late push of 123 miles in the final week I ended up with a 402 mile month.

I raced the Chuckanut 50k to a 10 minute PR in the middle of this. Though I was pretty happy with my 4h02m run time, as I was shooting for sub 4hr, I just didn't have my climbing legs with me on the day. My leg turnover held up throughout the race on the faster stuff, my descents were solid as always, but my climbing legs evaporated within the first mile of the first climb and I just had to slog it out and stick with it. I found myself with a pack of runners with about ten miles to go and in the end I finished 14-15 minutes ahead of this group, as the climbing was effectively behind us. It was rewarding to have felt terrible very early on and yet to have stuck with things and plodded through to a respectable result. A result that I can actually celebrate, especially when DNF thoughts nearly overwhelmed me from miles 7-15. I wasn't having my absolute best day but to fight it out and still be satisfied with my overall result made it very rewarding.

Last weekend, the week following my 123 mile effort, I managed to shave five full minutes off of my Diez Vista 50k course record from 2010. A race report is imminent...I hope.

From my last blog posting up to here, in pictures;

How much is that doggy in the fence?

Another day atop Dam Mountain. A favorite local route

The Green Room

A weekly endeavor, Dam Mountain ascent

Sometimes in a slightly different light,
you end up seeing things in a completely different way

A section of my new race The Cap Crusher 8k/13k

Ben Gibbard at WWU

Awaiting our annual training terrain melt out

The logo for our new race held on 03-23

Running on Chuckanut with Linda

A three bridge training run

Linda on the more technical bits of Chuckanut

BCMC a weekly route for me

As much as running in the rain can be challenging,
it also leads to some of the most beautiful runs

Colinoba birthday scavenger hunt in Seattle

Cougar Mountain outside Seattle

Logo for our next Coast Mountain Trail Series Race,
Buckin' Hell on May 18th

Happy Pi Day!

My Chuckanut PR

Happy Saint Paddy's Day from the Diez Vista trail

Another Dam ascent

Starting line of Cap Crusher

No gold

Dam Mountain

Grouse Mountain Snowshoe Grind,
ie Dam Mountain

Cleveland Dam with The Lions in the distance

A surprise gift, the new glow in the dark Canadian quarters!

Hiding on a trail in Squamish

The Dream Wizards are responsible for all that is great in
the Squamish trail networks

View from Survival Of The Fittest course in Squamish

Dam Mountain

A 50k PR on a training run

Dam Mountain with Adam Campbell

A city turned upside down in the ocean

Happy Easter!


Roxy testing her new gear

Linda with sunshine coming out of her bum

Logo for Coast Mountain Trail Series race,
Survival Of The Fittest 13k/18k

View of Garibaldi from Stump Lake in Squamish

Congrats from Salomon West Van on DV CR

A new course record

Coming up quick!!

A trot in Stanley Park

Where the sun eventually broke through

How to get noticed at Whole Foods

A walk in the city after an all you can eat sushi
night entertaining friends from out of town
We fly out for Japan and UTMF in just four days time!!




HURT Follow Along + Current Course Conditions

You can follow along on the live webcast on Sat as of 6am Hawaii time (two hours behind PST). Umm, I'm using a tablet app to post this and I can't seem to link specifically to the webcast, here's the address that you may have to copy and past to get it to go:

In terms of how I feel and where I'm at, all in all I think it's hard to arrive at a January 100 miler in better health and fitness than I currently find myself. Hopefully that means something come race day.

I got out on the course for about an hour today and it seems to be drying out quickly. Recent first hand reports had the course in rather rough shape after quite a wet late Dec and early Jan. During today's run it was certainly slick in sections, and it would run much more challenging than the last few years however, as has been mentioned to me by a few locals now, with any wind and no rain in the next 31 hours we could in fact find it to be in prime condition come 6am Saturday. Either way, whatever is presented to us, I'm incredibly excited and thankful to be able to step back onto the HURT course one more time. I'll actually have to run right past the spot where I last broke my foot, ten times throughout the race, and I am 100% certain that I'l recognize exactly where it all went down. It's been quite a journey these last few years and as I sit here tonight, blogging when I should be sleeping, it is with anxious excitement to get back out onto what truly are some of my favorite trails in the world.

As you follow along here's a reference point as to how I ran the race back in 2010. I'll be straight and say that I'm hoping to run as close to this as possible, maybe even a wee bit faster if conditions and my legs allow for it. It looks to be one of the more competitive fields they've seen here at HURT, yet another reason to get excited about race day!

Alright, here's a few pictures if they'll post, then off to catch up on some zzzzz

Jan 16th, 2010

Lap 1: 3h40m
Lap 2: 3h42m
Lap 3: 4h04m
Lap 4: 4h15m
Lap 5: 4h31m


1) Start to Paradise / Manoa

2) Paradise / Manoa to Nuuanu

3) Nuuanu to Nature Center

Wish me luck,



The Numbers Don Lie V2.0

Back in Sept I posted a blog called "The Numbers Don't Lie". It ended up being more of a self justification as to why I hadn't done better at UTMB, and throughout 2012 in general. I seemed to find resolve in reminding myself of just how little I was able to run in the nearly full year that I was sidelined.

Through further reflection however I realized that I was also making some race day nutritional gaffes along the way. I've since addressed these via the handful of races I've run since Sept. Primarily this involved not consuming enough electrolytes during my races. Yes I've heard of Tim Noakes, yes I've read his electrolyte theory, yes he's much smarter than me, and no his theory does not work for me in particular.

After returning from UTMB in early September I was carrying a bit of a hip/glute med injury around with me that pretty much shut down my running for the better part of three weeks. I was however able to hike, and since the fall in the Pacific Northwest is usually the best time of the year we enjoyed plenty of stunningly beautiful treks. Such as this:

and this:

By October, and thanks to Moveo, I was finally back to running again and I've been on a bit of a constant progression since then. In fact this December goes down as the single biggest running month of my entire life, and by a decent margin. Factor in that we had some of the earliest low level snow that I've ever experienced in my nine years on the coast, and a decent chunk of the running was completed on microspikes and/or snowshoes.

As I sit here tapering for the HURT 100 miler in just two weeks time it is with an air of confidence that I simply have not possessed in three full years, since exactly this time in 2010. There are of course absolutely no guarantees with racing, especially 100 milers, but I've put in the work and I'm ready to wear my result come race day. 

By the numbers. I ran over 1000 miles / 1635 km between October 1st and Jan 1st.

I managed to eclipse 3000 miles for the year, with a very late push. 

After the first five months I had covered less than 1000 miles as I was strategically worked my way back from injury.

In December (well technically from Dec 2nd till Jan 1st) I managed over 450 miles / 730kms. Included in this were two 50km races. At my first, the Deception Pass 50km on Dec 8th, I managed my first ultra victory in nearly three years. I ran under four hours in setting the new course record, during a 92 mile week. I was very happy with that. 
Photo Credit Glenn Tachiyama
To close out 2012 I knocked down 300km / 185m of running in just nine days time. From Christmas Eve until and including New Year's Day. 

I ran the NYD Fat Ass 50k, a 'fun run' that always seems to draw a pretty fast crowd near the front. Again I was very happy with my run as I shaved the better part of thirteen minutes off my best time at this event with a 3h47m06s effort to snag 3rd place. 

In 2012 I was only allowed to run 10k on NYD. In 2011 I 'ran' 10k on my crutches. In 2010, leading up to HURT Hawaii, I ran 3h59m55s after knocking down 300km in ten days. I really like where I'm at right now. I haven't felt this strong in, well...ever.
Photo Credit Mike Palichuk
The numbers don't lie and hopefully this means what I think it means come race day on Jan 19th.

2012 as a whole

x 320 individual runs, not running specific days, of which I have no real idea
4835 kms / 3005 miles
661 hours
168,000 meters / 551,000 feet

x 68
1650 kms / 1025 miles
78 hours
25,000 meters / 115,000 feet

Running by month

Dec - x 31 / 730 kms / 80 hours / 24,000 meters - feeling fitter than I ever have before
Nov - x 27 / 490k / 68h / 19,000m - feeling like finally back to peak fitness
Oct - x 24 / 415k / 64h / 17,000m - getting back to good again
Sept - x 31 / 300k / 68h / 12,000m - hip injury forced mostly hiking
Aug - x 23 / 461k / 76h / 21,000m - utmb
July - x 24 / 261k / 52h / 10,000m - sick + back to back dnf's
June - x 34 / 650k / 73h / 22,000m - one of my best ever mileage months
May - x 27 / 376k / 48h / 15,000m - allowed to start back on mountainous terrain
Apr - x 25 / 363k / 36h / 10,000m - still following strict mileage limits
Mar - x 30 / 361k / 45h / 9000m - building consistency
Feb - x 23 / 265k / 33h / 6000m - slow controlled build
Jan - x 21 / 163k / 18h / 3000m - fresh off of injuries




Carkeek 12hr - The Custom 5hr Version

I ran the Carkeek 12hr today in Carkeek Park, Seattle. Race Directors Brock Gavery and Sam Thompson have been organizing the fun run for six years now and all proceeds go to charity. Couple that with it being a Halloween run where plenty of people show up in costume and it's one fun day out on the trails.

It's a looping course and at just 1.93 miles it might not sound like much but checkout their website and know that their claim to it being one of or indeed the hardest 12hr out there is legit.

Each loop has 430 feet of climbing and descent, and on this day in particular weather was a slight factor as it was rainy, windy and freezing to start in the dark and though the rains eventually subsided the trail became slightly more slick with each passing loop.

I never thought I'd draw this comparison but it really does run like a mini HURT course, though it certainly lacks the level of technicality that HURT has become famous for. The similarity starts with the fact that it's a looping course and continues with the fact that there are pretty much three climbs over the 1.93 miles, and of course the first is the longest, exactly like HURT. In fact if you were to complete a hundred miles on the Carkeek course you'd end up with 22,278 feet of climbing and descent, which is pretty damn close to the 25,000 that HURT presents.

The 12hr starts at 6am. We were late getting outta Tacoma and ended up arriving at 6:03am, which of course meant everyone but the RD's were gone, and even they were still setting up camp.

Given that we were in our Halloween costumes and not 100% ready to run anyways we were quickly sucked into the fire to help sustain our falling body temperatures. After a good thirty minutes and watching the lead crew come through I realized that if I didn't get my ass in gear that the nasty weather was gonna win out and I'd be ridden with guilt at cowering to our standard fall precipitation.

At 6:45am I headed out with the intention of simply trying to warm up sufficiently enough so that I could kill another mug of coffee by the campfire pit after one loop before actually getting on with my run shortly thereafter. Of course once actually running everything starts to make sense again, the body heats, the rain seems like a compliment rather than a hindrance to your day and the mind settles into a relaxed state that makes you wonder how you ever could have considered not running because of a few measly rain drops.

With one lap down I knew stopping would be a terrible idea and I found my groove and started to roll. Roxy was along with me and of course in costume herself. It wasn't going so well for either of us and after numerous stops to address her outfit I ended up stripping it off and carrying it along (she ran the rest completely naked).

After lap two I changed out myself and will point out for sake of accuracy later in the post that I in fact paused my watch for the few minutes it took me to switch outfits. Carkeek doesn't keep times, just laps, and I had a time goal in mind as a test of where I'm truly at right now.

After lap three I passed off Roxy to Linda as she was also running and typically Roxy prefers Linda's pace on long runs.

Lap four and I was on it, I felt good. I was on top of my calories, my electrolytes, and my fluids. I decided I would in fact shoot for my pre-race goal of the equivalent of a sub five hour 50km run. Due to the looping nature though it broke down to attempting to run 17 laps or 32.81 miles or 52.8km as a 16 loop run would only equal 49.7km. Blah blah blah

Over the next 13 loops I was really happy with my consistency. There were obvious highs and lows but a few other things I really wanted to test out on the day were my mental game, and my ability to really fight for something I had set out to achieve on the day. This race toughness has been lacking for me lately. I've fought hard to reach numerous finish lines this year but most of those were made more complex by my mind being months ahead of my fitness levels. I never set out to just finish the CSP115 in March, but that's what it ended up being. I never set out to finish 53rd at UTMB in early Sept, but that's all I had in me. Obviously Carkeek is a fairly low key event and for me I desired nothing more, for if I blew up at least I'd know where I was at right now. Heading into Mountain Masochist 50 miler in Virginia next weekend and then finally returning to HURT Hawaii again in Jan, I was really setting out to hopefully confirm what I'd been sensing as of late. This is the best I've felt since pre-crutches, since August 2010.
(Managed one slip during the race. Never suffered from road rash in a trail race before)
The highs were so beautiful. I was forced into a reminiscing phase that lasted hours. The repetitiveness of the terrain and the certainty that an aid station was always less than a few miles away allowed the mind to wander while the body did it's job.

One year ago at Carkeek I very tentatively walked two loops, a mere 6km, and it was a victorious day. I'd been out of a walking boot but a few weeks and off of crutches just over five weeks. The doctor advised that it was potentially doable but to stop at the sign of any pain. Every step was a struggle and yet I refused to stop because the only thing that scared me more than potentially breaking my foot a third time was having the inability to walk six bloody kilometers.

It was January before I was allowed to run ten kilometers. I have spent far too much time this year staring off into the distance at where I want to be with my running and racing, longing to simply match where I was in 2010. I've forced my body to do things it wasn't conditioned for and then been frustrated by my lack of ability to achieve my racing goals. I've never been completely fair with myself throughout this process and I've never properly celebrated what really boils down to some of my best race results when the entire journey is put into perspective. I had completely lost perspective on this, and thankfully today it hit me full force...of course the fact that today was the first time in this lengthy journey that I felt like I had glimpses of my previous running levels certainly helped the positive mindset and awareness along.

2012 has been one of the best years of my life and it's been capped off by asking the love of my life to marry me while we were in France AND she actually said yes!
I have nothing to complain about and I know this. Today was still an extra special day though as although I just missed out on my sub five hour 17 loop goal, running 5h01m24s, I was well over 50km by five hours as I closed out the 52.8k version of my own personal race today.

18.59 (Roxy left Linda and caught up to me. I had to hold her up:-) )