Training update, and some out-loud thoughts about humility and the importance of being humble

The transformation has begun.

My legs are trashed, I’m tired, and I’m still trying to wrap my head around the distance I will run in a few weeks…BUT I’m also getting stronger, faster, and more confident in my own abilities. Training is one evolution after another, constant destruction and rebuilding back up stronger to achieve a better version of what existed prior. This is a process that is not only physical, but mental, emotional, and even philosophical/spiritual to a degree. A grueling path paves the way for a moment, that special moment…. 

Chuck Palahniuk once said of perfection: “A person had to work hard for it, but a minute of perfection was worth the effort. A moment was the most you could ever expect from perfection.” 

While I’m certainly far from perfect, the point I’m trying to make is that while everyone has their own way to get there, as athletes we’re all ultimately searching for our own little “moment” to be the best we can be and overcome what is seemingly impossible. That said, I’m doing everything I can to show up to Utah the best and most fine-tuned version of myself I can be. T-minus 38 days and counting…..

Aside from the physical rigors of training, I’ve had the pleasure of making several amazing new friends this year who continue to inspire me and embrace each other’s “good crazy” eccentricities, as well as the love we all have for pushing ourselves through the sport of running. It’s wonderful to network with other athletes and develop new opportunities. In addition, it’s always nice to gain new perspective and formulate new opinions as the sport continues to grow and expand. 

Perhaps one of the most important things I’m taking into this years journey is a renewed awareness of humility as it relates to how I conduct myself on and off the trail. I have a more thorough understanding of what I believe to be innate aspects of trail running like minimalism, respect for the environment, and modesty when it comes to my attitude and accomplishments. While I’m grateful for the experiences I’ve had thus far, they have afforded me to see things I like and don’t like about the sport. If one thing is for certain, it’s that everyone can benefit from toning down their ego from time to time. To elaborate even further, I’m starting to identify less with the term “ultra.” Yes, I run distances beyond 26.2, but when I refer to myself as an “ultrarunner” I am essentially saying that I am something beyond a runner. The fact of the matter is I’m just a runner. “Ultrarunning” implies doing something beyond running. Not sure what that would be…flying or levitating perhaps? Just my take on it. 

In conclusion I’m happy to be starting a new chapter and excited for what lies ahead. I’ve got a few more tough weeks ahead followed by a smooth taper into the race. This will be my first time to visit Moab and I hear it’s gorgeous so I couldn’t be more excited. That area of Utah typically has pretty mild weather in the late spring time, so I’m hoping for ideal weather conditions come race day. Before I forget, I’m gonna be trying out and reviewing some new footwear in the coming weeks so make sure to check back for that. 

May your trails be happy and healthy,

 

Adam

 

First race of 2014

First race of 2014

I enter 2014 with a renewed sense of hope and focus. While 2013 left me tattered and war-torn, I have had some time to recover and consider my direction going forward. I’m another year older, another year wiser, and another year more seasoned at a sport that I adore.

That said, I’ve got my eyes set on my first big test of the season. I had ran a Gemini event back in October and had a great experience with them, so I’ve decided to return to them once again for their 24 Hours of Utah event in March. I’ll be running a 100K on a beautiful course in Moab. I’m fired up and ready to return at peak form.

My training regimen is significantly different this year, as I’ll be placing more of a focus on the anaerobic side of things this year to include high intensity interval training, tempo/pick-up runs, cross-fit, and essentially any other high intensity cardio-pulmonary exercises. I now realize it’s not just about mileage, but also about pulling everything I can from my endurance and will. I want to be a better and stronger athlete “overall” as opposed to just being able to run far. In a recent interview ultra running great Hal Koerner discussed how he still does various non-running related workouts such as push-ups, sit-ups and plyometrics because he believes that it takes a strong person “overall” to run 100 miles….that it’s the culmination of strength between all muscles and body systems that allow someone to successfully complete that distance. I agree completely and that is part of my strategy this season.

I’m also happy to have made friends with the good folks at Denver Run House who are hosting “Bergen Peak Sundays” that are open to anyone. Pat is a great guy and I had a blast this past Sunday. Bergen Peak is one of my favorite places to run and I’m sure the company will only get better. I anticipate being in peak form by March, weighing significantly less, and having some killer cardio.

I can’t wait to get out to Utah and deliver a performance I know I’m capable of. See you in March Gemini Adventures!

The best Christmas present I got this year

The best Christmas present I got this year

As I came into work on December 24th, tired and a bit put out with the rat-race that goes along with the Holiday Season, I had no idea that I would open my email to something that would make my heart jump, and completely re-motivate and re-focus me for 2014.

It had been a nail biting few weeks since I had submitted my athlete application to GU Energy Labs, and frankly I was prepared to be told no thanks. I understand that rejection is a part of the game, but it had been such a long and trying Summer for me. I had sunk so much of myself and my resources into trying to take things to the next level. While I loved every minute of traveling and racing, my goal from the get-go was to see how far I could take this. And that’s why I was smiling from ear to ear once I opened my email on Tuesday morning.

I’m honored to share that GU Energy Labs has welcomed me to their 2014 Pro Program. I’m so grateful to have their support, and thus am planning to make 2014 a banner year. I am a huge believer in their products! The bar has most certainly been raised for my goals, and I couldn’t be more excited to face another season of epic challenges and self discovery. Shout out to all #GUCrew athletes new and returning, I’m so stoked to be a part of the family and look forward to meeting and exchanging stories of adventures with you all!

My schedule for 2014 is still in developmental stages, but I am starting to zero in on my selections. Most of my races will be at the 50 mile mark or above. Legs don’t fail me now!

That said, it’s just another few weeks of “coasting” before I pick things up into high gear. It’s looking like I may be staring a 100K in the face as early as March, so it’s definitely time to begin making plans.

Well wishes to everyone and your goals. Here’s to climbing new heights in 2014…cheers!

Closing Chapter 1, Beginning Chapter 2

As I look back on my recent string of trail running, which spanned 28 races and 4 states, I can’t help but feel overcome with emotion. Gratitude and appreciation for the experiences I’ve had, humbleness and inspiration from the amazing people I’ve had the privilege of sharing the trails with. I wouldn’t trade it for the world. 

I have learned so much about myself over the last year. Emotionally it’s been a roller coaster. I now realize that hills come with valleys, good times come with bad, and everything in-between. At present my journey right now needs to be one of rest, reflection, rejuvenation, and quiet. It was becoming increasingly apparent to me that in the weeks leading to my Seattle trip and especially after, I needed to step away for a bit. Burnout is a very real thing, and the funny thing is, sometimes the signs themselves are fleeting and subtle. For me, it manifested as a nagging feeling of malaise and apathy. I wasn’t sleeping and recovering as well from workouts, and it seemed I always had a little sore throat here, a stuffy/runny nose there. The body is an amazing machine, but it will tell you what you need to know/do if your are tuned into it. Ultimately, I knew it was a time for a much-needed break and return to some semblance of a normal life. I’m looking forward to recharging, enjoying the holidays, and not having to deal with the frenzied chaos of airports and hotels, at least for a little while.

While I’ve set any serious plans for winter racing aside, I plan to focus on my ambassadorship with Colorado Runner Events, promoting the winter distance series, and sending off some introduction letters of my own to companies/events to inquire about upcoming opportunities for 2014. I’ll be hooking up with trail veteran “Sherpa” John Lacroix to participate in his “Fat Ass” group trail runs through winter to stay fit, as well as doing some cross training of my own. It’ll be nice to run in a non-competitive format and simply find my balance with all this again. I also owe it to my family to finally “get-around” to spending time with them as I’ve been promising over and over. 

As for 2014, without allowing myself to get too preoccupied about it, I plan to make it a big year. I’ve got my first 50 miler and 100K booked, and am possibly entertaining the thought of a full 100 miler. Rather than do what I did this year, which was basically race every weekend, I think it may be more conducive for me to try to follow a 1-big-race-per-month (or every other month) format. I plan to escape even deeper into the mountains once the snow thaws.

Exciting things are ahead, and I’m grateful for the newly gained perspective on so many things that trail running has given me. It’s allowed me to escape the vanity and trendiness of novelty and stylized gyms and fitness. It’s allowed me to experience and embrace a more minimalist lifestyle that’s unadulterated and free from the frantic superficiality of social media and consumer culture and consumption. I have it to thank for some of the most intense endorphin rushes and sensations of being alive that I’ve ever felt. 

In closing, I’d like to simply wish everyone well this winter. May your success continue in 2014. I will still absolutely be maintaining this blog so continue to stay tuned. 

May your trails be happy and healthy,

Adam 🙂

 

 

 

Deadman Peaks Marathon Post-race Report

Deadman Peaks Marathon Post-race Report

“On the job training in courage” is a phrase that comes to mind when I reflect on the 2013 Deadman Peaks Trail Marathon. The race is in its 4th year and is held each fall in Cuba, New Mexico – a town situated in “middle-of-nowhere” Sandoval County desert, about an hour and half northwest of Albuquerque. My journey actually began over 24 hours earlier and 400 miles north by boarding a plane in Denver and flying into ABQ on Friday morning. I was greeted with very pleasant warm and sunny weather, which is typical of the New Mexican fall. Once getting settled in at my folks house and enjoying some authentic New Mexican cuisine, I tried to relax and get everything situated for the following morning.

Race day. My alarm was blaring in my ear at 3:20am grrrrr! I showered, ate, and hit the road for Cuba. My folks had never actually been to an event like this, so I just tried to explain the ins and outs of the logistics of how trail races work, despite them looking at me like I was an insane person for wanting to put myself through such “torture” as they put it. Once we arrived on site it was cold….like, holy shit cold. The car said it was 19 degrees, so much for wondering if I needed my thermal gear. I got myself checked in and the bus arrived at 6:30 to take the marathoners to the start point at the opposite end of the course. My folks wished me luck and we were off. After taking in the surrounding scenery on the bus ride, I thought to myself “Damn, you lose it out here and you’re gonna be in a world of hurt.”

By the time we reached our start line, the sun had come out to illuminate the desert landscape in fantastic fashion. Harsh but beautiful landscape as far as the eye could see. At 8 am, race director Kim King wished us well and sent us off for our 26.2 mile journey back to the finish. I had some concern about possibly biting off a little more than I could chew considering I had run a 50K in Boulder just 5 days earlier, thus my conservative and cautious pace in the beginning. The course really was magnificent – picturesque mesas that shot up skyward, and cliffside portions that were as inviting as they were dangerous. Once reaching the first aid station I was fully warm and feeling pretty good, subsequently causing my competitive spirit to come knocking. It was time to start the hunt, and begin to advance positions – my body willing of course. Considering the scenery around me, it was so easy to get lost in the rhythm of my own cadence and breathing. The fun really came for me after aid station 2 – by this point I had managed to advance on and pass a few people. I felt great and really started to glide over the some of the rocky sections. I was still mindful of my heart rate and breathing, but admittedly there were some parts of this course that were too damn fun to be cautiously shuffling through. I was taking in an energy gel about every ½ hour, and made sure to stay plenty hydrated.

Reaching aid station 3 was a relief, as I knew this was the final aid station on the course. Home stretch. They told me it was 9 ½ miles to the finish. I grabbed a few energy gels, filled my water, and went toe to toe with the hardest portion of the course – which is basically an insane scramble up a mesa that would even set the incredible hulks legs on fire. Feasibly there was no way I could run any of this, and settled into a steady speed hike, using my arms at times to propel myself forward and give my legs any possible slack. Once reaching the top and gathering my lungs who were currently on strike and hiding behind a tree at that point, I continued down the dirt trail and final descent. The last portion is a welcome “cruise” of a descent back to the finish line. Relief washed over me as I came around the final bend to see the cars and people waiting at the finish. My folks were there to greet me as I crossed the finish line at 5:43. I immediately plunged my legs into a bucket of ice water and began chowing down on food. Some of my first thoughts post-race were about how much of an unassuming course this appears to be on paper, but a completely different story when you actually get out there. It was definitely a confidence booster to have run in such a harsh, unforgiving environment.

Before leaving I thanked RD Kim King and told her I would be back next year, most likely for the full 53 mile ultra version. I can easily see this race growing into a super popular desert classic, and I’m glad that I got to cross it off my bucket list this year. What an amazing experience!

Gemini Adventures 50K @ Boulder Res Post-race Report

Gemini Adventures 50K @ Boulder Res Post-race Report

Normally Sunday is considered a “lazy” day by most. Not the case this past weekend for runners and organizers alike at Boulder Reservoir for the annual 24 Hours of Boulder Event. The race offers 3 events in which racers can “pick their poison” – a full 100 mile event, a 100K, or a 50K. I chose to run the 50K on Sunday.

It was a crisp morning at the reservoir, and I remember thinking how chilly it must have been for runners that had been going all night. We had our pre-race meeting with Reid at 6:45, and he sent us on our way right at 7 – just in time to catch an amazing sunrise coming up over the res. I settled into a swift but comfortable pace, and tried to focus on taking in plenty of fluid and gels. The course consisted of an out-and-back 7.14 mile loop around the reservoir with some minor hills and a mix of non technical single track, pavement, and open dirt road.

All was going well until about mile 24 when I started to cramp up pretty bad. Up until then, I had been taking in a steady flow of water, electrolyte solution, and energy gels but in my own foolishness neglected to take in enough salt/sodium. Thankfully, a fellow runner out on the track noticed I was in the hurt locker and saved the day by giving me a few salt caps. At this point I was on my last out-and-back loop. Once reaching the aid station at the other side of the reservoir, I took a few moments to rub my legs down, stretch, and scarf some chips. Once leaving, I literally felt like I had new legs. My body absorbed the salt, and I felt rejuvenated. I knew I had to make up whatever time I could so I smoked the last split of the loop, desperately trying to get back to the finish before 5:40 (my prior 50K PR) I literally felt like I was in another dimension the last few miles – an out of body experience if I’ve ever had one – and managed to cross the finish line at 5:32. I was ecstatic to get my PR, and come to find out, I was first across the finish line under age 30, 6th overall. Nice little comeback at the end.

This was my 3rd 50K of this year, and I learn something each time – most importantly about my own nutrition needs and how to push through the barriers I know are coming. The post-race hangout was cool – plenty of food and even got to spend some time in the recovery suit, which is basically a lower body suit that provides compression to aid recovery. Met a lot of cool people, and had a great time. Big thanks to Reid and the Gemini Adventures crew, and the Boulder Reservoir. I’ll definitely be back for another Gemini event soon!

Xterra Marathon of Trail Races Post-race Report

Xterra Marathon of Trail Races Post-race Report

Cheyenne Mountain Park was buzzing with activity on Sunday as Xterra hosted it’s 8th annual trail race series. I had come down to Colorado Springs on Saturday night so I could avoid a lengthy drive on race morning. The park is situated directly across from Fort Carson near the very south tip of town.

I opted to run the 1/2 marathon as I was still kinda beat up from the 50K I ran in Wisconsin the previous week, as well as trying to shake a minor case of the sniffels that I had all week – most certainly the result of traveling and a long week at work. The only explanation I can offer up as to why I subject myself to such torture is a simple: I love doing this. I love to travel and test myself in new environments. I love meeting people who are just as crazy as I am, and I love the thrill of confronting the unknown.

The race went off at 8am just as planned, and I knew fairly early this was just gonna be a non-competitive, maintenance-type of run for me.

The race winds back and forth through the trails near the base of mountain, and features some pretty technical terrain – definitely a course for intermediate level trail runners. I had a tough time finding a pace since my mind wanted to go faster than my body would allow. This frustrated me initially, but I eventually found solace in just tuning in to the trail and just having fun, after-all I thought to myself, what’s the point of any of this if I’m not having fun?

Several stream crossings made things interesting, as I finally got see how my puregrits performed wet – and just as I suspected, they did amazing. Thanks Brooks!

Before I knew it, I came up on mile 13 and decided to finish the last .1 miles in my characteristic sprinting fashion. I ended up with a time of 2:19, 4th in my age group and somewhere around 40th out of over 150 people. Not my best moment or performance out on the trails but as good as it could’ve been under the circumstances. This was my first race in Colorado Springs and back at altitude, which if nothing else served as a good readjustment to Colorado trail running.

Thanks to Xterra, Cheyenne Mountain State Park, and the tenants at the Travelstar Inn for helping me round-out my spanish skills.

The North Face Endurance Challenge Series Wisconsin 50K Post-race Report

The North Face Endurance Challenge Series Wisconsin 50K Post-race Report

I had the weekend of a lifetime. After months of nail biting waiting for 9/14 to come around, it was finally time to pack my bags and head out to Kettle Moraine State Park in Wisconsin for The North Face ECS 50K trail race.

First off, before I even get into the details of the race, I just have to say how beautiful, green, and lush the Wisconsin landscape is. When I flew into Milwaukee, I immediately noticed flourishing farms and the blue glow of Lake Michigan. Coming from a rather dry climate in Colorado, it was a rare treat for me to see fog and so much green. After orienting myself after the flight, I left Milwaukee and headed out to my hotel in Waukesha, which is about 20 miles southwest. I knew the next morning was gonna be a long one so once I got settled in I just relaxed and tried to get my mind and body focused on the next days task.

Race day. 5 am came really quick. I got up, showered, ate, and headed out to the course start at Ottawa Lake in Kettle Moraine State Park. There was an eerie fog as the sun came up, and it was definitely cooler than I expected. I could see my breath. Once on sight, I went through my usual routine of warm up and stretching. Before I knew it, it was time to get started and they paged everyone to the starting line. It was then that one of my hero’s, Dean Karnazes, addressed the crowd and wished us a good race. Go time.

The first thing I noticed once moving was how I seemed to breathe a lot easier and didn’t fatigue as quickly. This was most certainly due to the significantly lower elevation, and definitely welcome by me! I settled into a brisk, but comfortable pace as the trail twisted and turned, up and down. There was a dynamic mix of dirt road, single trail, and equestrian grassland, which gave me the opportunity experience some different terrain. I really focused on my breathing and cadence this time, which really seemed to help out. The aid stations were well stocked, and everyone was super supportive.

I felt great until about mile 22 when I started to cramp a bit and get stiff, but I was no stranger to this and realized that this is when the mental aspect comes into play. I took a few brief walking breaks to regather myself and kept on. I stayed well hydrated as I went through about 70 fluid ounces of water and several energy gu’s. At last after about 4 hours and 45 min in, I had reached the final aid station. I had the equivalent of a 5K to reach the finish. Piece of cake. I picked up the pace and knew I was close – it’s always at this point that a flood of emotions come over me all at once. It’s a wonderful feeling of triumph, adrenaline, reflection, and affirmation that I have accomplished something really cool. Me being the softie that I sometimes am, I usually just kinda chuckle to myself as I try to contain the inevitable tears that I know are there.

When I came out of the forest to the road opening leading to the finish, one of the sheriff’s who was directing traffic for the race told me “1/2 a mile, come on, keep going.” I picked up the pace even more and could hear the announcer and people cheering. Once I saw the finish line I just sprinted with everything I had left. This has become something of a routine for me when I finish races, perhaps it’s just my way of expressing victory over something that could have defeated me if I let it. There at last. Turned in a time of 5:40, new 50K PR for me.

Post race party was cool, food was great, and ice bath was amazing and much needed. This was really a fantastic and well put-together race. I don’t see any reason why I wouldn’t do it again next year. Maybe opt for the 50 miler.

Thanks for the memories Wisconsin, I’ll see you again.

The North Face Endurance Challenge Series Wisconsin

The North Face Endurance Challenge Series Wisconsin

I’m super stoked to leave on Friday morning for The North Face Endurance Challenge at Kettle Moraine State Forest in Eagle, Wisconsin. I have opted to run the 50K which will take place on Saturday morning.

Looking at some of the video and photos of past races here, it looks to offer some fun trail terrain, and unpredictable weather. I feel relatively confident as I am in great shape, and will be racing at a significantly lower elevation out there. There looks to be some big names at this event so I plan to meet a lot of people and learn all I can from those who have been doing this a long time.

My goals for this don’t really include turning in a specific time, but rather, having a smooth, clean, and consistent pace and performance. Gonna be listening to my body and hope to develop a stronger sense of my ability level for ultra distances. This will be my 3rd 50K, so I’m still pretty green, but I think this will be an excellent race for me to “gauge” where it is I should be falling with my performance so I know what to expect of myself in the future.

I fly out of DIA on Friday morning into Milwaukee, and back early Monday morning. Woohoo! Lets do it!

Absaroka Mountain Run this Saturday!

Absaroka Mountain Run this Saturday!

Well, I leave Friday morning for Meeteetse, Wyoming – a northern Wyoming mountain town with a population of 327 and a slogan of “Where the Old West is alive and well!”

The race is categorized as “extreme” with difficult terrain and a peak elevation at 10,000ft. I’ll be running the longest version of it at 15K. Apparently there were only 18 brave souls last year who attempted the 15K. The race has gained notoriety in part because of it’s insanely steep 1,000ft descent, which has actually caused the race director to prompt the runners to wear gloves.

I’m not quite sure what to expect, but overall feel pretty confident as this is not my first rodeo at high elevation. I’m probably in the best shape I’ve ever been in, and am hoping to knock the run off in 1:45 or less.

There’s only 1 hotel in town and the race coincides with weekend labor day festivities which include a bbq and hang-out pretty much every day til Tuesday. Depending on how the weekend unfolds I may stay til Monday or just head back on Sunday. Yellowstone is a hop skip and jump away from this place, so who knows.

See you at the finish line. Post race report to follow 🙂