Thursday, January 03, 2013

New Design and Updates coming soon.

I hope to do a full redesign and refresh of the blog soon for 2013 and maybe an updated shoe post if anyone is interested.  Stay tuned!

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Minimalism Take Two - My Minimalist Shoe Criteria and Shoe Selection for 2012

After re-reading my post from last year about minimalism and my shoe selection for the year, it is clear that I was inexperienced in the world of running long distances, especially on more technical trail and that I also had an ambition to try to include too many shoes in my rotation. However, after a year of heavy experimentation I think I've figured a few things out. I seriously cringe to admit this, but I probably tried 25+ different pairs of shoes...hey I did sell most of them on eBay this fall and got some of my money back, but still :) a problem on a few levels.

My shoe closet early this summer. If your shoe closet looks like this you have a problem...thankfully I'm down to about 1/3 of this amount and hopefully can cut it back more this next year.

The first problem is having so many shoes really does go against a minimalist ideal which is still the purest part of running to me...stripping down the excess and focusing simply on moving efficiently through the mountain environment.  Second, it presents a major physical problem of not letting your body adapt to any one shoe, platform, or consistent feel from run to run.  I had many races this year where I didn't have a clear favorite from a shoe standpoint and this had me running races in shoes that I hadn't put a ton of miles in prior to...never a great choice.

Part of my issues this year centered around what was appropriate for running more volume and most of that on much more technical terrain than the previous year.  I nearly doubled both my hours and mileage running and increased my vertical gain by 4 times.  This affected what kind of shoe ended up working best.  On top of that, since last January my feet have grown at least a half to a full size in length and have significantly widened to the point where most of the shoes in the picture above were simply too narrow by the time Fall rolled around.  For example, in Dec. 2010 I wore a NB MT101 in size 13 and now a size 14 MT101 is too narrow.

I moved from running North Face 50K last Dec. in the New Balance MT101s (size 13, a 9-10mm heel to toe drop shoe) to running my next 4 ultras in Inov-8 F-Lite 230s (4mm drop), zeroed MT101s (size 14)/NB M700 xc flats (2mm drops), and my last 2 ultras (only 4 weeks apart) were in the Merrell Trail Glove (0mm drop and practically no midsole).  So, I was going down the ladder to more minimal shoes as the season went on all the while I was gaining more mileage...probably not the most advisable scenario, but I had my reasons...mostly by the end of the season the Trail Gloves were one of the few shoes wide enough to comfortably fit my feet.

Summiting Sun Top approx mi 38 at the White River 50 - wearing 2E width NB M700 xc flats. Photo - Glenn Tachiyama

Approx. Mile 18 at the Foothills 50K Frenzy in Boise, ID this October in the Merrell Trail Gloves.

The end effect of this year is that my feet now fit in a small selection of shoes.  I've also found that, while running in a shoe like the Trail Glove is nice and super minimal, for that reason, it may not work for my main ultra shoe until I can get some more years of running under my belt and even then, I would probably only use them for non-technical trail under 50 miles.  My legs took a while to recover from my last ultra and I think that this was in part from moving the majority of my running in the last two months of my year to running in Trail Gloves, which were, by far, the least substantial shoe I had used all year for trails.

So, where does that put me this year?  I've settled on some main features that I'd like my shoes to have and listed them below.  Keep in mind this is looking at things from my perspective of wanting to run quite a bit (8-15 hrs/week), race ultra marathons and run a lot of technical trail in the high country this summer.  If your goals or tastes are different the criteria would change.

1. Appropriately shaped and wide toe box/last.

This is a deal breaker for me.  If the shoe doesn't allow room for my feet to move freely, I'm not interesting in using it. There are enough options, even for a guy with wider feet like me, this next year that I should be able to honor this first rule.

2. Adequate protection for technical trails.

This includes having a rock plate, enough midsole to absorb some of the gnarliness (this is where the Trail Gloves fall a little short), good traction with some lug to the sole, and security in the mid-foot to keep the shoe from moving around on the steep stuff (this often, as with Inov-8 this last year, comes in conflict with rule #1 so the balance can be tough sometimes).

3. Light.

Simple...It's not as fun for me to run in a shoe if it is much over 300 grams (10.5 oz) for my size 14 (which would be more like 7.5-8 oz or 220 grams for a standard mens size 9) plus I can be more efficient and stable on technical terrain the lighter and less bulk the shoe has.

4. Low heel-to-toe drop.

I prefer zero drop, but am open the reality that a little more might be advisable for running high mileage and ultramarathons.  I think there is plenty of room for discussion to be had along these lines (that I won't go into here) and I'm still trying to figure out the sweet spot for me too.  That said, anything over 6mm drop just feels super strange for me and most shoes over that are, are either too narrow, heavy or just aren't any fun to run in anyway; so I most likely won't be going over 6mm (only one shoe I'm looking forward to even falls in this category...the adizero Hagio) this year and will probably do most of my running at 4mm or less with a preference toward 0mm starting out.

5. Well constructed, breathable, minimal upper with soft enough interior to go sock less.

The upper should function to keep the shoe on your foot in a secure way, but after that, it needs to get out of the way. This means good breathability, good draining of water, soft interior, and minimal protection in the toe area (toe bumper/rand) from hitting rocks, roots, etc. all the while being durable enough to last around 500 small task. As far as the sock less part, that is personal preference; I hate wearing socks and feel like I have better proprioception without them (plus more room in my shoes). If I have to wear socks, I wear thin Drymax socks and then only for super wet, longer runs.

I don't know that I've found any shoes yet that accomplish every single one of these tasked perfectly, but I've got a few that come close and a few that I'm looking forward to trying in the next couple months.  Below are my main shoes going into this year:


My go to shoes: VFF Bikila with the Altra Instinct coming in very close behind.  I like the light and quick feel of the Bikila, but the fit of the Altra is better.  If the altras were lighter and had half the midsole they currently do, that would work well for me.

Some shoes I'm looking forward to in this category:

-Altra Provision, a racier version of the Instinct with less midsole...should be good UPDATE 1/31/12: Apparently the Provision is not a lighter racier version of the Instinct, but a firmer update that includes the ability to add or remove pronation control from the shoe...I'll still try them, but not what I was expecting them to be.
-NB Minimus Zero Road (if the wider widths fit good), they look light and durable. a good combination.
-Merrell Road Glove, like the Trail Glove, but for roads.
-VFF SeeYa, super light five finger
-Merrell Bare Access, zero drop, but with some cushion

Non-Technical trail up to 50k and shorter technical trail (sub ultra):

Go to shoe: Merrell Trail Glove for sure.  Best fit of any shoe I've run in.  Does really well on many different surfaces and rock protection is much better than you would think, but maybe a tad light for ultras, we'll see.

Some shoes I'm looking forward to in this category:
-Merrell Trail Glove in wide version
-Adidas Adizero Hagio (if wide enough; might use for long road runs too), successor to the adizero Rocket.
-NB Minimus Zero Trail (in 2E or 4E width) crazy light, super stripped down; great concept.
-VFF Spryidon, more substantial Fivefinger.

My trail glove after about 200 miles on them.  Super durable...they hardly look used.  I'll get 600+ miles out of them for sure.

Technical trail and 50 mi+:

Go to shoe: Right now it is the Altra Lone Peak.  Although heavier than criteria #3 above, it fits many of the other criteria rather well.  Most importantly it has a great toe box that gives me plenty of room...all in all it is working well for me this winter, but I think will be too much shoe and too heavy for me come summer.  Just got the Merrell Mix Master in and, although I haven't run in it yet, the fit is very good initially and it has nearly all of the qualities that I list above.  I anticipate it will work well for me...between it and the NB MT110 I hope I can find my technical trail shoe.

Shoes I'm most looking forward to in this category:
-NB MT110 (in 2E width)
-Altra, new version of the Lone Peak with less midsole (i.e. lighter and more responsive...unsure on the details of this shoe yet, but know they are making one)
-NB MT1010, 4mm drop, minimus last, but looks like a little more shoe than I usually prefer

Altra Lone Peak after 50 miles.  Zero drop with great width, good outsole and protection.
Merrell Mix Master.  Light and simple.  4mm drop, sleek, super breathable upper, good lugged outsole and rock plate.  These should be a strong competitor for the MT110.  I'm looking forward to some miles in them soon.
Loose/Soft/Muddy terrain:

Go to shoe: Not much in this category for me that fits good...hoping the Mix Master or NB MT110 will do ok for this type of running but haven't tested them.  Walsh PB Ultras have good traction, but I likely won't use for longer than a 2 hr run just because the fit is a little off for me.  However they are probably my best super loose option.

Shoes I'm most looking forward to in this category: Nothing that I know of.  I'd love to try the Salomon Fellcross, but Salomon doesn't make it in a 14 and it would probably be too narrow if they did.

This has turned into quite the post in length (sorry about that), however, I suppose that I wrote it more to summarize some of my own thoughts than for any other reason.  Hope it helps some of you and feel free to ask any questions you might have about some of the shoes I've tried.  I'm sure the list will shift and change throughout the year and a post like this next year might look a little different, but that's the fun of it and being able to look back and see where you were at a certain point in time.

I'm planning on posting a summary of the year and a look at next year in week or so. Also, I'd like to give a quick shout out to Joe Grant for fielding my shoe questions during the year.  He's been influential in forming some of the criteria above for me and I'm sure will continue to do so.  Also to Aaron Harrell for geeking out with me about running stuff when I'm sure I wore my wife and parents out long ago on shoe info (thanks for putting up with me guys :) ).

Saturday, October 08, 2011

Flagline 50K

It's been a while since I've posted, but I'm still out there running despite a few hurdles since White River.  I felt really good after White River, but near the end of the first week of recovery I developed and IT band/lateral quad issue that had me out of commission from any significant running (read 20-25 mi/week) for nearly a month.  As I started to recover, I was trying to find a race to get in before fall and came upon Flagline which happend to be the same weekend that I needed to head to Portland for a work related training.  I got in a good 2 weeks of running in the 8-9 hour (42, 46 mi) and felt good to run Flagline conservatively without any taper.  I've also been dealing with a foot issue as a result of too narrow toe boxes (and possibly compromised form) in some of my shoes, especially (sadly) most of the Inov-8's that I'd been using throughout the first half of the year.  I did the two weeks previous to Flagline in the Merrell Trail Gloves which, although very minimal, provide a wider toe box and yet more protection than a Vibram Five Finger.  After a couple technical mountain runs in them in training, I was pretty confident they would be up to the task of running Flagline although I've not run anything that far or technical in something that minimal.  In the end they turned out great and my feet have never felt better at the end of an ultra.  I ran with no socks and had no blister issues and now after at least 100 miles on them, they are my go to shoe for running trails and mountains and don't do too bad on the road either (although I wouldn't do an exclusive road run in them).

Heading out nice and slow on a perfect morning for a run.  Photo - Derek Schultz

Back to Flagline:  I started out much more conservative than I usually do and I think this paid off given the circumstances because after a easy 15 miles that I felt great for, I could feel my minimal base of training since White River starting to catch up with me.  The great part was that although I started to feel poor, I really didn't slow down much and actually ran all of the biggest climb of the course (1100 ft climb) at mile 22-24 ish.  The last 4-5 miles I was suffering, but again didn't slow significantly and ended up finishing in a new 50K pr of 5:25:22.  Crazy thing was there were a lot of fast folks here (probably because it was the US Track and Field 50K national championship race) and I only ended up getting 41st place.  It was a fast course, but had enough climbing (3,600 ft) to keep it interesting and was almost 75% single track at higher elevation (between 6,300-7,000 ft for most of the course).  It was a good experience for me and although I was a little more beat out after than I wanted, I feel like I'm slowly adapting and this year will really build a great base for me next year.

My feet after finishing; dirty, but feeling pretty good :-).

Next on the radar is the Boise Foothills Frenzy 50K in 2 weeks.  I'm recovering good enough that it is still a consideration, but it will have to be run conservatively as well.  I still figure it is good experience and should be a fun, first year, event.  The main focus for the last 2 months of Fall/Winter is the North Face 50 mile and will be what my training from here on out is centered on.  I had my worst ultra race to date there last year in the 50K and am looking for some redemption not to mention rubbing shoulders with some of the super fast elites that seem to show up there every year.  Plus the Marin Headlands of San Francisco are just a great place to run!  Look for a race report from Boise up in a couple of weeks and maybe even something else sooner.

Tuesday, August 02, 2011

White River 50 Race Report

-Around mile 28, I started circling the drain.  I never felt that bad, but had hit a patch of some real low energy levels.  Not a bonk, but a serious low in motivation and optimism.  Slowly, but surely, the unexpected happened...-

The day was crisp and clear...perfect weather for running in the mountains. (all photos Sue Henry unless noted)

Listening to the pre-start course looks like we are a little out of place height wise here.
Second ultra together...more to come I'm sure...great job Dad!

Uli Steidl lead out the pack on the airport gravel road for the first mile before hitting the single track next to the White River.  After some gently rolling terrain, we started the climb and I was really itching to hit the climb.  After the first couple of miles of climbing, I was actually a little bummed that it wasn't steeper for this climb.  I had hoped for a pretty agressive climb, at least for some sections, but instead it is a pleasant runnable switchbacking meander up to 6,000 ft from the 2,500 ft starting elevation.  This was all fine and good, but it didn't enable me to make some time like I was hoping...this I should have save for the second climb, which was steeper and more to my liking.  After topping out on the ridge the trail rolls a little and it is during this out and back section that I got a good view of the folks ahead of me.  The first one to pop around a bend in the trail was Uli and he was just floating over the ground and looked really effortless...he had at least 3-5 min on Gary Gellin and Timothy Olson who both looked good.  At the turn around I had to sit down quickly to readjust my shoes as the either the laces or something was off and I was getting an aching pain on the top of my left foot that had started around mile 5.  The weird thing was that I hadn't experienced this pain at all in training so it must have developed very quickly during the first couple of miles even though I intentionally made sure my shoes weren't too tight.

Anyway, on the return trip of the out and back, I felt great and was bolstered even further by gorgeous views of Mt. Rainier as well as seeing my Dad running easy and strong about 20-30 min back.  The descent back down to the river was much steeper and technical than the way up and I was really enjoying it.  I got caught by a few folks that were pushing the down really well.  Namely Craig Thornley and Krissy Moehl.  Craig ran around me quickly and was out of sight in a matter of seconds, very impressive.  Krissy took much longer to come up on me and in the process I had the not so bright idea to try to hold her off till the Buck Creek aid station.  Although, I managed it till nearly the end of the descent, I think I might have overcooked it a bit and came in the the 26 mile aid station a little dragging.

Changing shoes at Buck Creek...the easiest 26 miles I've ever run...although, I was a little worried the second half would not be so effortless.

Zach was my crew chief and he wasn't going to let me be satisfied with just a good first half.

Not sure what pep talk Zach was giving to Papa, but he looked as unimpressed as he did about my first half.

I had decided to make a shoe change at this aid because of the laces issue I was having and also change water belts from my one bottle to a two bottle system anticipating a hotter second half of the race.  As I left the Buck Creek aid, I knew I wasn't going to be able to stick to my goal of running the second climb as good or better than the first.  I just didn't have it in the legs and the fact that I had 24 miles to go after 26 mi and 4000 ft of gain already run started to weigh on my mind. Around mile 28, I started circling the drain.  I never felt that bad, but had hit a patch of some real low energy levels.  Not a bonk, but a serious low in motivation and optimism.  It wasn't till I hit the mile 31.7 Fawn Ridge aid station and got a few drinks of coke in me, some water dumped over my head and picked up the great energy of the fabulous volunteers that I started to feel better.  I left that aid with a much better outlook and proceeded to mix power hiking (which I apparently suck at cause I was getting caught by others that were hiking) and running (which I did fine with and actually gained on people when I ran) at about a 50/50 ratio.  I thought the last climb was going to get out of the trees and afford a better view of the course and Sun Top where I was headed as the course description said it was exposed on this section, but I didn't feel like it was that exposed at all compared to running many of my long runs at home all above tree line.  I also didn't get that mental boost of the view that I always look forward to above tree line until I actually hit the Sun Top climb, which was a steeper grade and felt much better than the more rolling, forested trail before it.  By the time I hit Sun Top, I was feeling better and after a quick refuel there was off down the 6.4 mile 3000 ft descent to Skookum flats.  I had been putting in 1 L/hr of water since mi 26 and still getting at least 200-300 cal/hr in the whole time even though I felt poorly.

After getting the legs moving a little faster, slowly, but surely, the unexpected happened...I started to revive exactly when I thought, before the race, that I was going to feel the worst.  By the time I hit the bottom of the descent at mile 43 and hung a right into Skookum aid, I was in much higher spirits and had made really good time on the road.

My wife, Alyssa, was a great support and I was surprised to see her at this aid station, but it really lifted my spirits.  Thanks Alyssa for being so encouraging on a tough day watching two kids while I got to play in the mountains all day!
The trail out of Skookum is a flatter trail right next to the river with a little more technical flair too it.  After a stiff first mile, the engaging nature of the trail got the best of me and I started to loosen up and feel much better.  By the time I was half way through this 6.6 mile section, I had started to hit a pretty good clip (I'm guessing around low 9:00 mi) and felt the best I had felt since the first half of the race.  I had made enough time up on the road descent from Sun Top that I started entertaining a sub 9:30 finish time.  As I got closer to the finish, I started feeling even better and was really pushing as I knew it would be close.  Once I hit the gravel road for the last .25 mi to the finish I felt great and had energy to push the rest of it out hard.  This whole process of revival at around 45 miles and 8 hours and 45 min into a run still blows my mind.  I had read so many accounts of other ultra runners that have experienced it, but it really is something you have to experience yourself to truly believe it is possible.  I figure my other ultras, since they were done by mile 31 or so just never gave me the opportunity to find this out...that and I was in way better shape going into WR (which probably had more to do with it).

Heading down the finish straight with Zach coming in behind me. Photo: John Wallace III.
Zach making 50 look easy in flanel, khakis and sandals. Photo: John Wallace III.

The satisfaction of finishing my first 50 miler starting to settle in.  Photo: John Wallace III.

Zach finished to the applause of the crowd and then wanted straight up in my arms...couldn't be happier.

The family just shortly after the finish.  What a great day!

Final time was 9:29:36 good enough for 56th place out of 244 finishers.  Although having slightly higher goals before the race, after experiencing it and know how it worked out, I couldn't be happier with the outcome for my first 50.  I think this race will mark the beginning a whole new level of learning and growing as a runner and person.  It was by far the most work in training (which didn't seem like a ton of work most of the time) I've ever put toward something and it paid off...I may turn myself into a runner yet...we'll have to wait and see.

All in all, White River was a great experience and yet I feel I still have much to learn.  I've got to get my shoe situation worked out better as that was a small issue and pacing will play an important role in the future.  However, my training, hydration and eating were the best they have been for any of my races and I think improvement, especially in ultras is a long evolutionary process that requires patience and consistency.  My recovery is going well and my short run today felt the best I ever have post ultra, so I think my increased base and elevation gain in training is starting to pay off.  I'm looking forward to getting back up some local peaks soon and hopefully out to another race of 50 mi or more in the next month or so.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Catching up Before White River

Well, I've be out of blogging for a little over a month now, but that doesn't mean I haven't been doing anything :).  I've been running a lot recently averaging between 50-65 miles most weeks and putting in lots of elevation gain (somewhere in the neighborhood of 10,000-15,000 ft of gain/week).  This has been the most consistent and quality running block for me ever and has me feeling really good and ready for the White River 50 mile race coming up this Saturday.  I've had too many great runs to share here, but numbers for the last 5 weeks leading up to White River are as follows:

25 runs
276.20 mi....ave of 11.05 mi per run and 55.24 mi/week ave (last week was a taper week at 43 miles which brings the average down)
50:14:19 h:m:s
65,516 ft gain...ave of 2,621 ft gain per run and 13,103 ft/week ave

My peak long run 2 weeks ago was a 25 mile, 6,000 ft gain, 5 hour run up high on the Elkhorn Crest Trail...this was really a great run and capped of my peak week (July 3-9) of 65 miles and 15,000+ ft gain.  Here are some photos/video from that run:

At Elkhorn Peak Summit looking down at Goodrich Lake

Looking South along the Elkhorn Crest Line

Twin Lakes; iced over still in the middle of July

From a separate run looking down the Pine Creek drainage from the ridge north of Rock Creek Butte.

White River Race report to follow next week :)!

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Back At It

I'm finally back to somewhat normal running with this last week that totalled 53 mi and 11,145 ft of gain.  Some nice routes are opening up that I've been wanting to do for some time now.  Pocatello took a little more out of me than I had thought it would, but now I feel back to at least pre-Pokie levels if not a little better and actually a little more recovered on my small little nagging pains and what not.  I thought I'd basically just share a little bit in pictures from this last week:

Looking up at some of the upper section of a climb up to the Pine Creek Reservoir...4.15 miles + 2,500 ft gain = best technical mountain run/ascent of the year;hopefully more to come later after the snow melts some more.
View at the top of the climb.  The reservoir is in the middle left of the pic. Still iced over. 

Looking up at the Elkhorn Crest...going to run up to the ridge and summit Rock Creek Butte (not visible in the pic) later in the year from this route.  Notice that the trees in all these pictures have taken a beating, not sure, but I think there might have been a significant snow slide/avalanche as many parts of the upper climb had some pretty apparent damage.

If I would have had more time, I would have tried to climb this exposed slope.  As it was, I was up at the res. at 7:00 am and needed to be back in town by time :).

My mom descending one of the trickier snow traverses that were near the top.  She's one adventurous woman and never turns down an offer for a run, no matter what kind of junk I lead her into :).

This trail has seen better days.  Great, more technical section near the top of the descent.

A rare picture of myself as usually I don't have people with me on many of my runs and don't take a camera very much.  Feeling pretty lucky to get out up here on such a nice morning...after we descended back into the trees had to put the shirt back on though :) was 37 degrees when we started out and probably low 40's when we got back at 8:15ish.
Hope everyone is enjoying the beginnings of more summer like weather...we've got a forecast for temps in the 80's a couple of days this next week, should be fun.

Wednesday, June 01, 2011

Pocatello 50K+ (37 mi) Race Report

I'm finally back in and settled after this last weekend in Pocatello, ID.  After reports of potentially nasty weather, we lucked out with a fairly nice day (for running at least) in the high 40's with no real precip to speak of.  The course was in decent condition considering the high levels of snowpack that the area has had and this made for a decent amount of trudging and sliding, but this only added to the challenge and fun of the whole event, which is a truly great mountain race (I'd love to come back when the circumstances are right for a trip up Scout Mt. which was not included in the course this year because of too much snow).  Here is a short run down of how the day went:

My Dad and I at the 50K start (City Creek aid station).  He tore it up out there...50 years old, never ran in his life before 2009 and decided to throw it all out there for 37 miles...and he only came in 23 minutes behind me, crazy!

We started out at 8:30 am at the City Creek aid station (for the 50 milers).  I thought we might see a few 50 milers run by before we started and I was right.  Dakota Jones came flying in about 5 mins before we were set to take of.  After Dakota left we got ready to go and I stepped aside, after a suggestion from Yassine the night before, to take a moment to take it all in and be thankful for the opportunity to race that day.  He said that he likes to take a moment and have gratitude for being able to be out there and toe the line on that day in addition to all the support that we get from our family and friends and to take that gratitude with him the rest of the day.  It was really a profound suggestion and made a huge difference for me in putting things all in perspective.  Yes, this was a race, but really it was so much more than that after all the miles ran in training, the times Alyssa takes care of the kids so I can get in those longer weekend runs, and even the mountain itself and how it speaks to, refines, and captivates me all gave me a continued sense of gratitude for the health and ability to partake in something like this.  Thanks for the wise words Yassine!

I choose to run the race in my Inov-8 F-Lite 230s and they performed flawlessly.  I also took a handheld water bottle (mix match camelback holder and random bottle) and an Inov-8 Race Elite 2 hip pack, which I really like as it is big enough to put food gloves and a packable coat in, but not really noticeable when running.  I started out probably a little farther back than I should have, but had been burned by running out too quickly at the North Face 50K in SF 6 months ago so I didn't want to go out too fast this time.  This was more of a problem at Pocatello, because the trail went down to narrow single track and a moderate climbing grade almost immediately and I spent nearly the first 20 mins just trying get around people.  By about the 4 mile mark, I hit a section they called the Barkley section that looked like this:

This is what the start of it looked like...yes the route when right up the middle of this creek.
The upper sections were more like this...lots of side-hilling over snow to be had in the upper parts of this first climb.
By the time I hit this section, although I didn't know it at the time, I had probably worked my way into the top 10 and was feeling good...I wish the climbing would have kept going because after I crested the top of this 5 mile climb w/2,500 ft gain in 1:03 I hung fine for the next mile or so on the flat ridge, but as the elevation started to drop off, I found myself not able to hold the downhill pace of the front runners.  I was still going at a solid, for me, 7:45-8:00/mi pace but this was not enough to hang on to the group.  The next section was 10+ mi of downhill with only one small 600 ft climb in the middle and 2,500 ft of descent.  I covered the section fairly well with 9:00/mi pace for those 10 mi, but it was not enough to catch any of those in front...this is something I'm going to work on soon.

Next, I hit Mink Creek aid station and had to spend a fair amount of time switching out some gear and food.  I only took the food I need for the first 16 mi from the start as I knew I had a drop bag at mile 16, but not sure if this paid off in the long run as it took longer than I'd like to see (4 min.) to switch out my wrappers of Clif shot gel and blocks and re load my hip pack and hand bottle pocket with the the food I needed for the rest of the race.  I took my shirt off at this point as I was getting a little warm and didn't need to put in back on till about 45 min before the finish.

After leaving Mink Creek I hit the second large climb and felt decent, but not quite the pop in the legs as the first climb...this is expected :) at this point.  After reaching some higher altitudes 6,300 ft+ the snow started to cover sections of the trail.  The elevation leveled off at around 7,000 ft for an out and back to the Scout Mtn aid station that was around 1 mi each way and mostly snow.  This was a good spot to see some of the other runners.  I saw my Mom (Susan, who was running the 19.5 mile race (actually 21 something) and gave her a high five.  She was looking great despite being nervous about her ability to run the course (which I never doubted) and ended up finishing a respectable 9th place in here first trail race at 48 years old...very well done Mom!  I reach the aid station and the guys there had it rockin'. I had heard that Roch Horton was running the aid station and apparently Karl Meltzer was there too although I never saw him...I did see the Red Bull on the table (should have made the connection :) ) and grabbed a can on the way out to see if I could get any rejuvenation from the sugar and caffeine, plus hydrate a little extra on the descent.  I was worried about being a little dehydrated and low on electrolytes, but never ended up getting any cramps or anything.  I worked my way up through the snow covered out and back heading out and saw my Dad (Loren) heading in and gave him encouragement to keep pushing strong.  He was looking good, but it was only mile 21 and I expected him to be strong at this point...the real test for, which he passed convincingly, would be after the marathon mark, which was his personal best distance to date (North Face trail marathon in December 2010).

The next section was a long brutal downhill, did I mention I've got to work on downhills :)!  It was 6 miles long with 2,000 ft of descent.  I covered it at a passable pace, mid 9's after I got through the snow that was covering the first 2-3 miles of the descent.  This, however, killed my over all performance I believe.  I felt fatigued from the downhill, yet I was not covering at a fast enough pace to make it benefit me.  Definitely a problem.  By the time I hit Mink Creek aid station for the second time at mile 29, I was ready for some uphill.  I hit the porta potty for a quick stop, grabbed some chips and pb&j for some salt and different tasting food.  I'd been hitting Clif Shot gels and Bloks most of the race, but was getting a little tired of eating them at the moment.  All in all, I think I did pretty good on food with an estimated 1,700 cal put in during the race and never felt like I was going to bonk.

The climb out of Mink Creek started pretty gradual and I was able to hit it at a pretty good pace for this late in the race (11-12 min/mi), however, after 2 miles when it turned onto the Corral Creek loop that it would end on, things got steeper and I started to come apart a little.  I tried to run as much as I could of this section, but was reduced to a hike for probably 30-40% of it.  It crested out around 6,400 ft and then had a 2 mile section of flattish running on a fire road before turning on to the Corral Creek trail for a quick, and somewhat tricky for this point in the race, 1,000 ft descent over the next two miles.  I hit the road which I knew meant just a little over a mile to go.  After running by myself since Mink Creek, I was a little surprised to have someone come up on me just as I was taking to the road.  I looked back to see that it was one of the ladies (found out later her name was Emily Judd and she got second place at the Bighorn 100 last year!) from my race (identifiable by the bib color) and she looked stronger than I felt.  She right away passed me and I thought I would have to let her go at that point.  However, after getting the legs turning over for a minute or two, they revived a little and I was able to close the gap back to her.  We were cruising on a slight downhill at around an 8:00 mile at this point and I decided to see if I had anything left in the legs.  I pushed it a little harder and went passed her and proceeded to open a gap of about 100-200 ft or so.  We zoomed by Mink Creek aid on the way to the finish and I knew there was around .25 miles left.  This is when I noticed her closing the gap again and I though, you've got to be kidding me...37 miles of running most of the race by myself and it's gonna be a sprint at the line.  I backed off just a little to make sure I saved a bit for the last 100 meters or so...after we turned into the campground she was probably only 50 ft behind me and I turned it on at this point reaching into the low 6's to close it out hard and retain 12th place overall at 7:15:00 with Emily finishing just 2 seconds behind me.  I've never met Emily before, but thanks for pushing me and congrats on a solid race!

Saw my Mom, who had already finished.  I got changed and grabbed a little food and then proceeded to wait for my Dad to come in.  I told my Mom that he was probably going to be a while as I felt like I was breaking down a little at the end and that Dad, who hadn't done as much training or other ultra's like I had, must be hurting more than me.  I was proven wrong and he showed up only 23 minutes after me for a solid 17th place and 7:38:17.  At 50 years old and just starting running less than 2 years ago, this is an amazing feat...very well done Dad!  He's gonna keep me honest with my training because if I fall apart and we are in the same race...he will inevitably eat me up in the final miles with his exceptional stamina and I can't let my old man beat me right ;).  Official results here.

Well, Pocatello was a great experience and really gives me confidence for running 50 miles at White River in 2 months.  I've already run twice since Pocatello and am amazed at how quickly the well trained body recovers.  I did a short 4.5 mi run last night with 450 ft of gain going easy and felt pretty good most of the way.  I wouldn't be surprised if almost all the soreness is gone in a day or so.  We can do so much more than we often mentally limit ourselves to.  If you want to do something, go for it!  You'll be surprised with where you can go.