Lots of happenings in the land of Project Talaria. We’re happy to report an arrangement with Rainshadow Running that will see us video documenting more of their awesome races in the future! We are very excited to have 3 of our videos featured in this weekend’s Trail Running Film Festival in Troutdale Oregon. They will be premiering our 2013 Orcas Island video as well as the Deception Pass video and of course the cult classic… Roll Out!
Dave will be making his long awaited return to the Ultra-Running scene THIS WEEKEND outside of Portland Oregon at the Gorge Waterfalls 50k. Very excited for him, good luck Dave! I’ll be on the scene as well filming the race. Smile for the camera if you’re running the race.
The Zion 100 draws near, I’ve been training hard and have kept busy running some tune-up races. I’ll give a brief recap of some of the action.
Thanks to Glenn Tachiyama and Chris Thorn for the great photos.
Deception Pass 50k – December 2012
Coming off abdominal surgery in October I was excited to get back into a trail race. Deception Pass was a new 50k for me and a chance at an early (or late, depending on how you look at it) season effort. I was happy with my training post-surgery and found my fitness to be returning well after the layoff. I went in with the goal of pacing my best 50k to date. I went out quite relaxed and just enjoyed running some gorgeous new trails. The course is very creative with a lot of little ocean front “lollipop” loop sections. the folks at Rainshadow really milked the most out of this beautiful area. Deception Pass is a fairly fast course with really only one steep climb to speak of. There are a lot of rolling sections but most of it is quite run-able. I knew this going in and wanted to save something in my legs for a strong finish. I had a very steady burn of a race with no real dips. Easily my most controlled 50k effort to date. Props to Vancouverite Colin Miller for cruising past me towards the end with a really strong finish. Congrats to Gary Robbins as well, who had quite a comeback party at this race, running strong to a new course record. My time of 4:23 had me in 7th place overall.
I expected nothing less from Rainshadow Running, but I found a great December 50k quite close to home.
Orcas Island 50k – February 2013
As usual… Orcas was awesome! Such a beautiful setting to absolutely thrash one’s body. The course was updated this year with MORE climbing. I find it hard in Victoria to replicate the Orcas climbs (and descents) in training. This is part of why I love running it, a challenge in the truest sense of the word. This course really tears up my quads, but undoubtedly leaves me stronger in the end. I paced a fairly even race, determined to improve on my complete explosion from last year (first 50k. Hard, hard lessons). The famous powerline climb was situated later in the race this year (32k) and it really delivered, slowing the pace of the even the fastest runners to a literal crawl. It’s hard to describe the grade of this climb. At times if feels like you aren’t really moving forward at all, just up, very slowly.
***Let me take a moment to share the most clear-cut lesson I’ve learned so far in my young Ultra-Running career: When someone uses the term “POWERLINE” to describe a climb on a race course, be it in Leadville, Orcas Island or wherever, you take that S*#T seriously***
After this point in the race it’s a bit of a painful blur. Leg cramps were threatening but never fully took hold. I just bared down and closed it out. I’ll never forgive Adam Hewey for blowing my doors off with 1km to go. Just kidding Adam! Impressive race, veteran savvy. Crossing the finish line at Orcas is a wonderful feeling. A very hard earned and honest 50k mountain race. I snuck under the 5hr mark with a 4:57, good enough for 8th overall on the day. I want to take a minute to thank any and all who are involved with this race. Keep doing what you’re doing! It’s a wonderful thing.
Dirty Duo 50k – March 2013
Final ultra-distance race before April’s Zion 100. I was excited going in to really push myself and see where my training had taken my fitness. The course was unchanged from last year and I knew it well. I was focused on taking a good bite out of my time from last year. Jeff Hunter, last year’s winner was going to be there again so I knew there would be some solid competition to push against. Last year I went out too hard and blew up around 30k, suffering to the finish. I was a year older and “smarter” but more importantly my body had been through a few battles since then and I knew I was more fit this time round.
Jeff and I started together at a fairly conservative clip. The field separated in a hurry and soon it was just us, with Jeff taking the lead on the first set of climbs and stairs. I was happy to sit back and let my body ease into the race. The course was in great shape, amazingly dry for this time of year in the North Shore Mountains. The day was perfect; cool and sunny. I caught up to Jeff at the first aid station where he stopped to pick up a water bottle. We ran for some time together after that, chatting happily while starting to ramp up the pace. Jeff is a super nice guy and I’m happy to call him a friend. We shared some laughs while pushing the pace through the early km’s. I knew from last year that Jeff is a very talented downhill runner. I consider my self to be a work in progress when it comes to flying down technical descents. The race played out as I thought it might, with Jeff pulling away slightly when things got more technical. I was however matching his pace for the most part while remaining fairly controlled and relaxed. Again I was happy biding my time and keeping him in sight. We hit the first extended climb of the first loop (the course repeats two big loops), I was feeling strong. We both ran the whole climb. After summiting the climb the course heads down “Ned’s Atomic Dustbin”, a steep and technical Mtn Bike descent that goes on for quite some time. I knew Jeff would gap me on this section. I just focused on relaxing and getting down it as fast as possible with minimal effort. By the bottom he was out of sight. I was starting to worry I may never see him again!
The course then heads onto the flat and fast Bridal Path. With my road running background I knew if anywhere, I would have an advantage on these sections. A chance to really open it up and get the legs turning over. On the long straights I could see Jeff in the distance. He hadn’t gained too much on the descent, I took some confidence from this. I started to ramp up the pace and narrowed the gap slightly on this section, again happy to run comfortably and keep him in sight. We completed the first lap like this and started out on the 2nd lap. I was starting to feel really good, and thinking the day might treat me well. I was making up ground on the flats, though Jeff was holding me off well. At one point I looked at my watch and We were running 3:20km pace on the flats. I was careful to dial it back a touch and save something for the 2nd extended climb. We turned left off the trail and after about 3 minutes of climbing Jeff stopped and said “I don’t think this is the course”. I had been completely zoned out, just following along mindlessly. I hadn’t noticed the lack of ribbons. We turned around and headed back down the trail. At the bottom we found that we had indeed gone off course. Completely our fault, the turn we took wasn’t marked at all. We lost 6 minutes through this detour.
Back on course we ran stride for stride through some awesome flowing trails. The pace was FUN. We came to a bridge with some dogs on it. I remember thinking “I hate wet bridges” and then… WHAM! I’m down. My knee hurt like a _______. I sprung up and kept moving, pretending it didn’t happen. Jeff was very gracious, stopping to make sure I was OK. I assessed the damage while running… no joint or bone pain, it wasn’t structural, just really bloody. Keep running.
Soon after this we hit the base of the 2nd big climb. My knee has numbed up by this point and I was confident it wouldn’t be a problem. I could tell Jeff was moving a little slower on the climb this time around, and it seemed his breathing was a little more laboured than mine. I saw a chance to make a move as I was feeling quite strong. I pushed up the climb without looking back, running the whole thing again. I looked back at the top and couldn’t see him. I dove into the 2nd round of “Ned’s” descent, again just trying to get to the bottom as quickly as I could without crashing into something, like a rock or tree. I kept expecting to be caught on the descent. Looking back near the bottom I still couldn’t see Jeff. I’m a bit of a headcase when racing, and I’ve learned I really don’t like being in the lead, at least not yet I don’t. At one point I had to give myself a talking to.
“Stop waiting for him to catch you and RUN you idiot!”
I was back on the flats now. From here on out I just hammered as hard as I could. Deciding that if Jeff was going to catch me I was going to make him earn it. The course finishes with some tough shorter climbs and stair sections. Careful to stay upright, I navigated these areas as efficiently as possible. My legs still felt relatively good. I spat out of the trails and knew the finish was close. I was relieved to have some gas left in the legs to finish strong. My time of 3:50 was good enough for the win, with Jeff coming in at 3:57. We both added 6 minutes to our times by going off course. Congrats to Nicola Gildersleeve on a great run, winning the women’s race.
One final note. Jeff told me in the days before that he might not run because of a fall he had taken a few weeks back that had compromised his training. Congrats to him for toeing the line despite the injury and for providing such great company and competition.
Comox Valley 1/2 Marathon – March 2013
I have a soft spot for running fast on roads til I want to puke. This race really satisfied. Despite being focused on a completely different type of event, I’ve been maintaining some road speed through my 100 mile training. I’ve had this marked on the calendar for quite some time as my last race effort before Zion. Going in I knew my fitness was headed in the right direction. What better than a road 1/2 marathon (my favourite road distance) to use as a measuring stick?
The day offered cold temps, wind and rain. I started off fast but controlled. Determined to pace a smart race and save some gas for the last 5k. My legs felt good from the start. The course is out-and-back with the first half gaining some elevation and slowing km splits. What goes up must come down however, and the back half of this race is blazing fast. I planned for this going in, relaxing through some slower early km’s knowing I could gain it back later. The plan worked well. My legs and lungs held out and afforded me some strong km splits towards the end of the race. I finished in 1:17:17, good for lucky 13th overall. This was a 2.5 minute 1/2 marathon PB for me. Very happy with the result and even more happy with a strong recovery, getting right back into a solid training week.
That concludes my binge race reporting. Sincere thanks to all the volunteers and organizers that make these races possible, your efforts are appreciated.
Good luck to Dave and everyone else running Gorge Waterfalls this weekend. See you on the trails!