Monday, April 28, 2014

Zane Grey, I mean, I mean 23.5!

This weekend was "supposed" to be our comeback race at the Zane Grey 50 after both dropping in 2007. That year we had temps hotter 'n hell, so we hoped that maybe with some better weather we would get through this beast.

As race week came along the forecast was calling for temps in the upper 40's to low 50's with a possibility of showers. PERFECT! Read on...

What we missed was the RD's message the day before:

Runners, Volunteers, Crew & Pacers,
The National Weather Service has issued a hazardous weather condition alert for the Mogollon Rim and northern Gila County.  Due to genuine serious concerns over flash flooding of Horton Creek and Christopher Creek, compounded by rain and high wind conditions, the following changes will be in place:

We are going to have both a 50K and 50 Mile option, with both finish lines being at Fish Hatchery.  Finishers of either distance are eligible for all finisher awards.  Runners do not need to decide which distance they are running until they get to the Fish Hatchery.

Because of flooding conditions expected at the Horton Creek (mile 38)  and Christopher Creek (mile 44) crossings, runners will be diverted down the Horton Creek Trail (we will have monitors here).  For 4 miles, runners will follow the Horton Creek Trail to the Horton Creek Campground.  This is where a new aid station will be setup and “See Canyon” drop bags will be located (approx. 42 mi.).  The final 4 miles is up the paved road back to the Fish Hatchery.

However, if Tonto Creek (mile 33) is swollen and impassible, all runners will be stopped at Fish Hatchery.

Thank you for your understanding,
Joe Galope
Race Director


Race morning we had the absolute pleasure to have Robert "Mongo" Andrulis drive up from Chandler to hang out and drive us to the start. This eliminated half the problem of what we were going to do with our truck in this point to point race that provided no shuttles back to the start. All we had to do now was to get back to our hotel in Payson, which is a lot easier than getting back up HWY 87 to Pine and the start.

A couple of Ultrarunning geeks at the start line

Race morning was chilly as we rose at 3:30am for the 5am start, so we hung out in Robert's car until a few minutes before.  Chilly was fine and so far no rain, but as soon as we started up the trail it began to come down. It was quite windy, too, but we should be mostly in the trees and protected from that.

Why can't those clear skies be here?

The plan was to run around my aerobic threshold HR of 130 to keep us from going out too fast. In the past when we used this, we enjoyed passing many runners in the 2nd half of the race. This went well up to the first aid station at mile 8. It was raining heavy now and we got in 30 minutes ahead of the cutoff and both felt great. In and out we went, I ate some fruit and then had a Raw Revolution bar on the way out, while Deb ate some of her potato home fry style pancakes that she put in a baggie.

Mile 8 aid station

Within minutes of leaving this aid station, the temps started to drop and the rain changed to hail...due to this, the trails became slick mud that stuck to the bottoms of our shoes which filled in all the nubs on the bottom so no grip now! Slipping sliding, struggling up the hills and careening downhill out of control with no chance of stopping made for an interesting time.

We ran into the next aid station at mile 17 hearing "You've got 3 minutes!". Wow! We lost 30 minutes in that section! As we came in they helped us get our drop bag and told us the 50 mile was cancelled due to the weather and the rising water in the canyon, the finish was to be at mile 33. Then the weather got worse when I was expecting it to get better. I kept telling Deb when it was cold and snowy that it was only 8AM and things should warm up. Well it only got colder.

The first sign of hail collecting on this uphill

By mile 20 we were both soaked to the skin, had everything on we brought (we were dressed for NH winter conditions) and were getting so cold we were neglecting eating and drinking, so we kept talking to remember to eat! Remember to drink! My fleece gloves were now frozen solid and I couldn't get my hands back into them without difficulty. Forget putting my fingers in, the finger parts were solid ice!

This was taken not long after the last photo
Things were going downhill fast

After struggling mightily with the beginnings of hypothermia (shivering while running) and slowing down because we just couldn't get up some of the hills they were so muddy and slippery that I began to think stopping at Hellgate may be best and a life saver.

I've run in New Hampshire in the middle of winter in sub zero temps and have never been this cold! I've been on the top of Mount Washington in the Winter at 40 below zero and I wasn't this cold....why? Because the rain soaked us before it got cold. I don't know the actual temps, but it had to have been below freezing.

No longer fun
I could no longer get my hands to work to take any more trail photos

After one last struggle up a real slippery slope where I had to push Deb up and then she pulled me up, we came to the Hellgate aid station at mile 23.5 at around noon and were immediately told that due to safety concerns all runners who didn't make it there by then had to stop. I said "Thank God" while Deb started to ask why! She is definitely tougher than I am. Here I am thinking of stopping as I'm coming into the aid station and she's already here and wants to continue! Even while she's standing there shivering!
If they didn't stop us and she wanted to go, I would not have let her go on alone...but they took that decision out of my hands.

Next they said "Now just walk 2.5 miles down that road to the rescue vehicles". Ugh! The road was a deep, sticky, muddy mess. We tried jogging but were so cold we couldn't get our leg muscles to work, so just walked. We were both shivering and cold and the only thing that made things a little better was the sun came out for a few minutes.

Riding to the finish in the rescue vehicle

Upon arriving at the Fish Hatchery, where the new finish was, Joe Galope, the RD gave us both a finisher's jacket because we were stopped due to weather, out of our and his control. Thanks, Joe!
A nice family of a runner gave us a ride back to the hotel and after a hot shower and a cold beer, we went out to get some food in our bellies. Robert returned from work and joined us for the evening of food binging and beer drinking.

It was a wonderful weekend with a black hole in the middle. We really wanted to get the 50 done...I guess I would have been satisfied with the 33 mile finish, but it still wasn't "Zane Grey". From what I understand, the run has never been cancelled due to weather.

To see the rest of my "not too many" photos go to this link.
For the results go here.
39 of us didn't get past Hellgate, out of 200 entrants there were only 137 starters, 93 finishers. I'm thinking many of the Arizonans decided to not show when they heard the weather that morning.

So that's it, I'm back at work, Deb's home taking care of things and our many animals. My next goal is to focus on the 5K and to try to get some speed back. It will be an interesting experiment after doing almost totally Ultrarunning since the mid 90's. I started today with four hill repeats on dead legs from the 8.5 hours total, 7 hours to Hellgate, then the walk down the road. The legs don't feel too bad, but I'm sure there's some deep fatigue still in there.
My weekly miles will plummet, but the days I do run will be focused on speed.

Another thing on the horizon for us is some backpacking in Colorado this Summer. Since neither of us are in Hardrock for the first time in 13 years, we don't know what to do with ourselves! So we'll be hiking some areas we never got to see due to always training for Hardrock.

See you on the trails (and roads)!
Steve and Deb

Friday, April 11, 2014

A new training plan'd think at this point in my life after running for 39 years (next week is the anniversary) that I would have my training down pat. But as many will find out, you have to change things as you age or will be left sitting on the sofa with tired, over-abused legs.

The past 10 years or so I've been following a mostly Maffetone training protocol that has you run at a low HR for the majority of your running. This keeps your legs and body fresh for continued training, but in order for his system to work, you need to do lots of volume. As I've been learning how to adapt to my aging body (I'm 62 with a lot of miles on me), I have found I need more recovery than training. In comes Scott Jurek's book "Eat and Run". His proclaimed recovery on the vegan diet got me to switch over to this type of eating not quite 2 years ago and I have to say I feel better than ever, but it still wasn't enough. My daily hour and multiple hours on the weekends that I've been doing for years was leaving me flat and tired all the time.

So I got into a discussion with someone I met online who had already gone through this and found a way to make training work. I found Rich through this article and more recently this one and it opened my eyes. We seniors absolutely need to inject more rest days or we're heading for disaster. It's not injury I'm worried about, but total body fatigue as the recovery times need to be increased.

Enter in every other day training...I have been dabbling in this off and on the past year with some success, but I kept making the same mistakes. As soon as I got recovered from the long runs, I'd go back to my old ways because I was now "fixed". Add to this the infection and cipro I talked about in my last post and more disaster, trying to run a road marathon in El Paso and a trail marathon in Salida within 3 weeks of each other last month didn't help either, especially while trying to recover from these while running the final miles in Salida, I decided to take the plunge and run only every other day. I will have to say that after 2 weeks of this, I'm enjoying my running better and the pace is starting to drop a bit. Not long ago my average running pace was in the mid 12's, it's now in the mid 10's and I expect it will drop further, but not as dramatically. I need to have patience through the process.
I still wear the HRM, but run by feel and collect the data afterwards for my log.

Here I will mention that I have 2 goals this year....a sub 20 minute 5K and a sub 3:30 marathon. These times are what the age grades say I "should" be able to run based on my PB's of 16:32 and 2:48 when in my early 30's. I have confidence that as I continue to improve on this training and move into the race pace phase, I'll reach or get close to those goals. The 5K has to come first in order to have the leg speed to run a marathon in a sub 8mpm pace. First I need to recover from my next event and I'll begin this journey.

Typical Zane Grey 50 trail
(in usual 90 degree heat with no shade)

The next event is the Zane Grey 50 miler in 2 weeks from tomorrow. We've been getting some good long runs with the road long runs up to 20 miles leading to El Paso through the Winter and the more recent long trail runs. Last weekend Deb and I ran 26 miles of the Jemez 50K route and I finished the run by running the last 7 miles at a solid pace (mostly downhill, but rocky and/or sandy). I needed 2 days off from that run this week, but I felt great on my 6.5 miler on Tuesday, feeling quite recovered from the long run.
Zane Grey isn't something that will help me with my goals mentioned above, but we entered last year and would like to get this one done after both DNF'ing in 2007. Zane Grey claims to be the toughest 50 miler in the country, but I'm not sure that's still true...but it's going to beat us up. I'm not planning on racing it, Deb and I are going to enjoy the day together and help each other in low spots. I'm looking forward to the journey!

Looking down from Kroger's Canteen, AKA Virginius Pass, 13,000+'
Where we announced our engagement in 2001 and could be where we sleep the first night this year while hiking the course

On another note, my friend Mark Heaphy and I agreed that I will be pacing him on his 16th journey and finish at the Hardrock 100. Mark and I spent most of the run together last year where I ended up finishing just in front of him because he and his wife Margaret stopped in the road before the finish to talk to someone. I didn't even know I went by them and would have pushed them along, if I had known it was them. We became separated when I stopped to take a 20 minute nap at the KT aid station, about 12 miles from the finish...but the nap refreshed me so much that I caught them and several others.
So I'm glad to have my Hardrock plans coming together. Deb and I are planning on hiking the whole course the weekend before the race. We'll take our time and do this in 3-4 days, either sleeping under the stars or staying at a hostel or motel in Ouray and at a friends in Lake City. The first night should be between Telluride and Ouray and we'll camp up high to watch the fireworks as that will be the 4th of July.

We are planning on doing a lot of hiking in Colorado this Summer, rather than run races as it may be our last Summer in the beautiful Rocky Mountains.

So that's it for now, time to get working on our house. One more bathroom to replace and we're almost done!
Steve and Deb