Northern California is full of experienced, talented ultra runners. I don’t really consider myself one of those. Since I started running Ultras in 2009 I have done 11 ultras, only 6 of which took more than 6 hours and just one 100 miler. I think Ian Sharman did 11 already this year.
So when I had a bad day at work and ended up registered for a 100 mile race last October I went into sponge mode. When Ian asked if I wanted to run up Diablo with him I did not hesitate at the chance to pick the brain of the crazy man, Leadville Champion, and new Grand Slam record holder himself. Ian is only a year older than me, but in ultra running years (I think there is a McMillian or maybe Torrence Calculator for that) is light years more mature than me. The most critical thing I learned that first trip up Diablo was that just because you run (or hike) up slow, does not mean you need to run down easy. 3600 ft of trail descent with 3 sub 5:10s thrown in for good measure and I had my first “real” taste of downhill training. I say “real” only because I am not an exercise, running science, newbie, and I do understand training. Continue reading
While running at UC Davis I had the privilege of being coached by Jim Hunt, an elder statesmen of the college coaching scene with decades of experience. Coach Hunt had a very specific approach to training, deriving many of his ideas from Dr. Owen Anderson. The most prominent of these was neural based training for endurance athletes. At Davis every one of our workouts would include drills or intervals focused on improving neural recruitment patterns and thus efficiency of running. Improving our skill at running rather than just our cardiovascular conditioning. I have found these adaptations important in my training and am hoping to share some of the key drills and workouts that runners of all types (trail, road, track) and levels can incorporate into their training. Of course this is just one piece of the training puzzle, but an oft neglected one. Continue reading
“When life gives you lemons, make lemonade” is not quite apt for what happened this past weekend. Explicit within that saying is that your bad luck was of no fault of your own. What happened to me was completely my own fault and rather than make lemonade, I was handed glass after glass of lemonade (well actually they were mojitos, but you’ll get the idea). Generosity runs deep in the ultra runner community.
The past three weekends were crazy. 19 days prior to Ice Age I was running the marathon of my life in Boston, lowering my previous PR by 4min30sec to 2:23:32 (Strava #proveit), a performance that surprised even me. Home on Tuesday from Boston, Friday brought bachelor party #1 in South Lake Tahoe, making for both late Friday and Saturday nights. However that was merely the warm-up to bachelor #2 in New Orleans. Just last weekend I spent Friday to Monday in the Big Easy, attending Jazz Fest, drinking sazeracs, watching the sun rise, and consuming grits, beignets, and a few Po-boys. After all of that, I lost my license going through security on the way home. As I made an appointment with DMV for a couple weeks from then, I was optimistic my license would reappear and I could avoid the hell that is the DMV.
Solid New Orleans cuisine best consumed after 1AM.
It wasn’t until my seat belt was fastened, seat in the full upright position, and tray table secured on the runaway of SFO that I realized my passport could get me to Milwaukee, but my license would be essential to get me from the airport an hour west to La Grange via rental car to the Ice Age 50 mile start line. I would have kicked myself if the leg room in my cozy Southwest seat would have allowed it. In Denver, I calmly goggled “renting a car without a license” and quickly found some outlier examples of people renting without a license that I convinced myself I could sweet talk my way to a car rental. Hertz was not convinced, nor Alamo, nor any of the other car rental agencies. Damn. Continue reading