What can I say... this race was a late season focus and I F'd it up before I even got to the start line. How? Well, I spent the 2 weeks leading up to it on a solo road trip. Taking my time getting from Ketchum, ID to California in order to avoid training in the cold/snow. In theory it should have worked out well. I got to explore some great places, saw some friends, and had nothing to do but train.
I did enjoy the trip, but I also lacked the structure I had before Moab 26.2 and as a result felt like I lost some of my fitness. Not to mention tweaking the back of my left knee about 10 days before the race.. from over stretching it in my truck on a cold night.
The race itself was executed well. I ran by HR, sat back, and picked people off all day. I was just too far back and lacked the fitness to go any faster.
Lesson Learned: Make a plan and stick to it - and don't sit too much!! (Road Trip)
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I have worked with a running coach before – and it didn’t go so well. I ended up over trained, stressed out, and not enjoying the race that I spent a bunch of time and effort preparing for. My experience in working with Josh Arthur was quite the opposite. I met my goals, had a great time, and am hungry for more.
When I started working with Josh last spring – I had just moved from St Louis to Denver – so I was in the midst of acclimatizing to the altitude and the relentless climbs here on the front range of the Rockies. I had not been able to train consistently due to our move and my job change. I also had an ambitious list of races scheduled for 2015 – including the Dirty 30 12 miler, Leadville Heavy Half Marathon, Kettle Moraine 100 mile relay, and Bear Chase 50k. I came to the party having DNF’ed three 50k’s over the past few years – so finding the finish line at Bear Chase in September was the goal I was most eager to achieve.
Josh was quickly able to assess where I was with my fitness and get me on a regular training schedule to prepare for Dirty Thirty, Leadville, and Kettle Moraine – which all happened over a four week period in May and June. When scheduling issues came up with work or family commitments – we worked around it. When a previous foot injury flared up – he assessed the situation and worked with me to switch to a different shoe – which quickly solved the problem.
Looking back on what I’ve achieved this year – the results speak for themselves. I had a great time at Dirty Thirty and enjoyed hanging out with some of my new Rocky Mountain Runner friends. This was my second year at Leadville – and I was able to cut 52 minutes off my time. Instead of wondering whether I was going to die trying to slog up to the high point at Mosquito Pass – I quickly power hiked the climb and encourage other runners cheerfully as I was headed down. Kettle was also a repeat engagement – I crewed and paced for a friend doing the hundred miler last year and had organized a 4 person team for the 100 mile relay this year. Our team, the Crusty Old Farts not only finished, went sub-24, had a blast playing in the woods – but won our Mixed Master’s age group. And yes – I did cross the finish line at Bear Chase 50k for my first ultra finish!!!
Working with Josh kept me accountable, helped me maintain a consistent training schedule, helped me to achieve my goals – all while having a bunch of fun and really enjoying the process. I am wrapping up 2015 with the McDowell Mountain Frenzy in Arizona in December. 2016 includes Potwatomi 50 miler in April, Bighorn 50k in June, and Mark Twain 50 miler in September. Looking ahead to 2017 – I can see a 100k and/or 100 miler in my sights.
Trail running for me is mostly about feeling like a 12 year old kid playing in the woods and staying happy and healthy. The great friends and genuine relationships that are part of the ultra community keep bringing me back. The races are about challenging myself and achieving what I didn’t think was reasonable or possible. Having a great coach and friend like Josh Arthur keeps me moving forward on this journey – and helps to overcome the hurdles and setbacks that can happen along the way.
Coaching Testimonial – David Gibson
Talk about pressure... after nearly 2 months of inconsistent training while dealing with posterior tib tendinitis, and just 2 weeks after my first DNF I was in desperate need of a good day. The fact that this race was the final of the US Skyrunning Ultra series, a 20% points bonus, and I was currently leading the series just made that pressure even heavier. I didn't need to win the race to win the series, but I needed to flawlessly execute my race plan and finish amongst the front runners, particularly Cody Lind.
Cody & I have raced each other at each of the 3 series events that have given us points. Cody edged me out at the first one taking 2nd to my 3rd at the Quest for the Crest 50k in May. In July we raced again at the Power of Four 50k where I took 2nd while Cody was 5th. With Flagstaff being out final "battle" and just 10 points separating us it was bound to be an exciting day.
To my surprise, the race started out very casual. We had a lead group of about 5-7 guys for nearly 10 miles. No one really wanted to lead. Eventually the group decreased to 5 and as we approached the top of the second climb I took a pit stop. When I started running again just 20-30 seconds later I quickly realized that I wasn't going to make up the lost ground. Every time I tried my HR would climb above my intended effort. Knowing that I would almost certainly blow up if I pushed any harder I made the smart choice and continued on solo at my own pace. As we approached half way, I was still in 5th and continuing to lose ground. At one point the gap reached 9 minutes.
Damn, I thought. All I want to do is race and compete at the front where I have been all season. No sitting back here running solo and having to hear updates along the way. (Later I would find out that it was Cody who was leading at that point and making the gap wider and wider) Eventually though I started to feel some rhythm, although not fast, it felt steady. I cought and passed the 4th place guy, and then began the long grinding climb up towards the final portion of the course which was a VK on the ski resort. To get there though we had to climb up the "power line". Thats where I saw him.
To my surprise, and believe me, I was both very surprised and excited all at once. There was Cody. He looked rough, but was still moving. I was tired and had been running conservative all day but at that moment had to make the only move I could. I pushed my HR up a bit and did my beset to look relaxed and in control as I went past. I still had a chance at winning the series and I knew that Cody would re-group and try to come after me, so I needed every second I could possibly gain, and fast!
I pushed the pace as much as I could without going too deep into the red zone. The gap opened and soon I was on the final climb. Also to my surprise was that I soon could see both the 1st and 2nd place guys just in front of me up the slopes. Anything is possible, so I gave it hell and pushed even harder. I was highly motivated to stay in front of Cody, but now I began trying to close the gap on the lead. I felt I was moving well until that first jump... there were a lot of drainage ditches that we had to jump over, both on the way up and on the way down the final VK. Each time I jumped my calves and quads nearly seized. Effort cramps!! Damn it! I don't even hurt or feel like I've pushed my body, why the hell can't it handle one final climb?!
With so much training lost over the previous 2 months I realized that even though I felt rested and ready, my legs did not have the same fitness that they did 2 months prior. I had to ease off the pace and make sure I conserved enough in order to hold my position and secure the overall title. It was more important than the race itself and was my main goal from the start of the year. Pushing too hard and losing it now would be devastating, so I backed off. Then I got passed... who is this guy and where did he come from!!?? It wasn't Cody, so the points title was still safe for the moment but damn, he's moving and I can't respond.
Talk about exciting and fun (at least now it is as I'm looking back at it). I held cody off and won the series title, finishing 3rd. That guy who blew past me was in the 25k. I was so focused on the numbers that I neglected to look at his bib and see that we were in different races. Cody finished just 6 minutes behind me in 4th. I was a mere 11 minutes behind Dan who won the race with a respective 6 hr 55k on a course with over 10k of vert. I got my descent race, I got the title, and I succeeded in getting my main goal of the season - US Skyrunning Ultra champion.
There are times when you struggle in training and racing, but the highs and lows come and go with the wind. I was able to work through the lows this season and come back to have a good performance after weeks of little training. This race left me satisfied and content but ever so hungry for more. I know it wasn't my best season, hell, the season isn't over yet, but hopefully the lows are.
Saver the highs, remember the lows. Then share a beer and a good laugh with your competitors. Many of them are good friends and feel like family in this sport. Not to ment and the ones who make competing worth while. See you all at the next adventure.