Tuesday, February 08, 2011

Rocky Ruminations

I have witnessed two course records go down in the first 36 days of 2011, neither of which belong to me.  I would like to think that my presence (running) acted as a catalyst for these unworldly performances but alas that too would be amiss. Never-the-less, both of my times were good, the latter I would even go as far as to say, great.  Here's the account of how it happened.   

"I'm trying to convince jurker to jump in.  he's about halfway there.  turning into a pretty solid field. you should come down. w/o any climbs to break everyone things probably won't really separate until 80 miles.  guess i'll just have to run 7:30s the whole way..."   - Tony Krupicka

I had a hard time not finishing a 100 in 2010.  The distance is by far my favorite and it's the one I do well.  I ran better than I expected at Western for someone with one leg and then I got the wind blown out of my sails at LT100 when I went off course.  I hadn't accumulated much confidence going into 2011 and why should I have,  I had found my groove celebrating just about everything unrelated to running and was doing quite well at it. I mean the only thing Tony and I had in common leading up to his question of whether or not I would run a 100 miler on February 5th was a healthy beard so as to better brave the wintry elements.

Lord of the clings.

Yes Scott, I was wearing a jacket for the first 20. Better Than Naked!

The one thing that separates ultra runners from other contributing members of society, and other athletes, is the ability to forgo all reason, logic, judgment, and fear and jump into the arms of certain pain solely on intuition and ambition. They may leave the latter on the doorstep as well.   

"Hi Joe,  

Scott, Hal and myself are all planning on coming."  - Tony   

I had a 50k under my belt and two weeks to put in some quality miles to feel more certain about the decision I had just made.  Who was I kidding, the race now included over a handful of the best 100 (+) mile runners in the country and here I was trying to recover from an event I didn't even train for. Before I could make any decisions my body made them for me, I was sick.  Well, Erik and I decided to run 13 that turned into 20 with almost 4,000 feet of gain on my first day back and that's what I got for it.  The taper was in full effect.

"So tell me you're just going to drop at 60, that's all I'm giving you."  - Jenn Shelton (RR100 CR holder)

I really had no great expectations other than finding the familiar feel of running for half a day, maybe more, and all the accompanying fixings that have always made me want to do it again. Oh, I was happy to be there with Scott and Tony and Karl etc but I really felt they would all be running away from me and that would make for a long day. Finally it hit me; 24 degrees, dark and everyone lined up behind the timing mat.

As we headed out on the first of five successive 20 mile loops I couldn't help but run hard to try and stay warm.  The pace was comfortable and I found myself chatting with my OXFAM Trailwalker teammate Hiroki Ishikawa as we stuttered around the winding trails in pre-dawn light.  I then moved up to heckle Scott, "What is this, 24 hour pace?"  The group was serious, a little stiff, and all business.  Everyone was adjusting to the unlikely circumstance of running with a large pack of legitimate runners for so long, myself included.  Luckily a couple runners had made the distinction of getting the party started and a minimal chase had begun. 

Tony, myself, and Mike enter Damnation aid station with Jurek gaining. 

Tony has a compendium over at Running Times and I won't bore you with all the beta that has surfaced from this unassuming race suffice it to say, it was one for the record books ( Maya. ) I will admit however that the day unfolded almost as easy for me as it wasn't for Tony and certainly less considerable than how it must've been for Ian.  I never felt pushed beyond my limits mentally or physically and it afforded me an ability to hang tough all day.

I was more than content to run with Tony as he always seems to pace himself so effortlessly.  I had to hold on at times when his surges of adrenaline and fueling didn't quite mesh with mine and I was a little surprised to find myself back in the mix when those 20 second differentials hid him in the pines, but running with someone for almost 93 miles is a lot like trying to match hops on a pogo stick. (get it shelton?)

Of course there were times when I had my fill too.

"Hal, why don't you just stay here this weekend and we'll go on a nice 30-40 miler in the sun."  - Erik Skaggs

I'm always getting dragged around on training runs and have come quite used to capitulating.  There is always that chance however that the gamble pays off, and over 100 miles you get a lot of opportunities. It doesn't look so much like capitulating then either.    On this day, there were two gambles that didn't pay off.

As Ian ran away with the race I couldn't help but wonder if I heeded his early pace, heck I didn't even know who the guy in the black beanie was.  Of course I had received emails from Meissner about a guy coming from Bend to Lithia Loop with a legitimate shot and my athlete manager at TNF had just called me earlier in the week to talk about a prospect joining the team.

"He ran very well at Comrades...yes he was 7th at Western." - Lisa Watson/me

That's the chance you take, and kudos to him for going for it.  I felt I too was going for it, but for a guy that never ran a flat, fast 100 I had no idea of what was possible.  I did know that not going in 2011, with all the talent amassed, it would never get any easier. That's for sure.

So to Tony, I must say that much of my herky jerky running was the realization that I didn't think you wanted to hear all that Cee-Lo Green and Phoenix coming out of my headphones, ok ok Ray J and SISQO.  I also didn't know that we were running sub 13:30 pace.  I really would've like to catch you on that road and run in closer to 13:16 but that's much easier to say in hindsight. I love how defeating miles 90 - 100 are and they are always defeating. 

Fill that bottle as fast as you did for Tarzan.

To Joe P, thanks for an awesome event.  I never thought running 5 x 20 miles could be so much fun and be so well supported as well as directed.  When I jokingly wrote you about filling in the blanks on the race registration and adding my time as well, you weren't far off.  Next time I'll be shooting for my name with that sub-13!

"Never can doubt you, you lover of mothers"  "This is probably the race of your life...all downhill from here."  That's what we call pulling an elephant out of your....."  - Jenn Shelton

All very valid points. For the finer points and three of the fastest 100 mile trail times ever look here.


Olga said...

Wow, Hal, you also can write...that;s what Rocky brings out, huh? Man, it was awesome. I am saying, watching you and Karl doing a class in old school was just pure joy. Get healthy and tell us where you're going next...oh, right, you simply jump into things when asked:) Way to go!

Footfeathers said...

Great report and even better run! Super start to a big year for you. Thanks for sharing.

Brandon Fuller said...

After racing with you twice in 2010 and you DNF'd both times, I am glad to see you back in the front keeping them all honest!

Anton said...

I'm glad Shelton is there to keep you in line, dude. Thanks for making sure Saturday didn't just turn into a repeat 13:30 effort. Now that I can walk again I'm already looking forward to ripping around the Headlands again with you in May. And make sure Skaggs still gets out for a sunny 30+ miler or two.


joerunner said...

Great run but I'm not sure if appreciate the legitimate runners comment. Although, I do think I know what you meant.

Rogue Valley Runners said...

@tony - thanks for putting up with my poor attempts at humor. Always fun to run with you for however long.

@joerunner - yes, lots of legitimate runners out there on Saturday and Sunday. I'm not sure if it's the preferred nomenclature but I like the word.

Chris said...

Great writeup Hal. A lot of mid and back packers enjoyed watching the elites run and the celebrity sightings. Biggest disappointment was Jurek not rocking the belly shirt. Please encourage him to wear that in future races. Otherwise its like Superman without the tights.

dtc said...

My favorite blog! Good post as always and great comments, I feel like a fly on the wall of the ultra community reading all of this. Keep on keeping on!

Lynn B said...

Hal, It was a lot of fun watching you guys blow through DamNation each time! Have to give you credit for best dressed of the elites... matching shirt and compression socks and all...

In addition to enjoying watching you guys run, it is also great to read your analysis and banter. Thanks for being a great representative of ultrarunning!

Lynn B
DamNation Captain

sharmanian said...

It's lucky for me (and Tony) you didn't take this race seriously or turn up feeling 100%, but that's still a scorching time. I said before the race that to get on the podium would take times under the CR and I wasn't far wrong.

Great to meet you and looking forward to chatting again at plenty of races this season.

rustyboy said...

BAM, knocked another race and race report out of the park.

Awesome job, man.

Erin Bruce said...

Hal, I've really been loving reading the blog posts about your recent races. I was telling Carly, after seeing you guys in action a few times, now that I know some of the lingo and quite a few of the players, your writing really gives me a clear sense of being there. I love being able to keep up with you guys and your adventuring. You and Carly both are really inspiring. I'll admit, I've been feeling like it's time for me to dust off the running shoes from the deep dark corner of my closet. Congrats on such a great finish Hal. I bet it's nice to still be able to surprise yourself!!

Rennaker said...

You still listen to Phoenix?? How 2009...

Eric B said...

Great Read and great run. Thanks

Santiago said...

Great report. It was quite exciting to follow the race from Ashland via twitter.

Derrick said...

Great report and awesome race.

Found it really interesting reading how you felt you went in lacking fitness, but nailed such amazing race. Makes me go back again to thinking and wondering if many ultra runners just race too damn much.

Koz said...


Impressive dude. You've set the bar high for 2011.
You do, however, need to work on your PC vocabulary as there are an unprecented number of overly-sensitive, easily offended types roaming the landscape these days. The "preferred nomenclature" is "runners of a faster persusasion."
Keep it rollin' - Koz

Koz said...

Never mind that extra "s." Only needed when speaking with a lisp.

Rogue Valley Runners said...

Hey KOZ,

Sure things, and I have taken to heart the comments about "legitimate."

This blog sometimes comes from an elites perspective and as such my dictum leans towards those encounters. Legitimate was used synonym for winning or running sub 14 or well known for running extremely fast for extremely long.

I'm sorry for the otherwise offense.


Koz said...


My previous comment about "overly sensitive, easily offended types" most definitely does not apply to me. In fact, I challenge you to offend me:)I do, however, enjoy roaming the landscape, albeit significantly slower than you. I like to think I see more of said landscape, although I'm sure you would see a fair amount as well even at your speeds if not for the over-sized Breathe Right nasal strips blocking your field of vision.
It seems, by strictest interpretation of your definition, that I have a long ways to go before I qualify as a "legitimate" runner. I'll try to refrain from wearing my RVR logo tank top when running at illegitimate paces...
- JK

Tracy said...

Enjoyed reading your side of the story. Look forward to more upside from you in 2011.