Sunday, October 19, 2014

Oct. 13th to Oct. 19th

Monday, 10/13--Off

Tuesday, 10/14--Hill Intervals w/Run Wild Missoula

753', ~50 minutes

This was a hard workout.  After a warmup with a few hundred feet of climbing, we sprinted up a grassy slope 6 times, maybe about a 70 foot climb.  I had trouble staying ahead of some folks I'm usually well ahead of, maybe because this was about the equivalent of a 200 meter sprint in terms of time.  Fast stuff is difficult!

Wednesday, 10/15--South Sentinel down to Evans St. and back up

3,584', 1:41

An easy run in some windy and slightly rainy weather.  I stopped to take a few pictures, changed in and out of my jacket a couple times, and took it really easy on the downhills.  Just a day to enjoy the scenery and the weather (I prefer light rain to sun).

Thursday, 10/16--South Sentinel to Sentinel to trailhead and back

4,144', 1:50

Another Thursday run on this route, clocking about the same time as last week (slightly faster).  Moderate pace, beautiful day.  Legs felt okay, but I think that Tuesday workout was a little too short, hard and fast for me.

Friday, 10/17--Mt. Sentinel Tempo Run

1,948', 36 minutes

This week was a little slower on the uphill (24:xx), and a little faster on the downhill (11:xx) for about the same time overall as last week.  I was pushing it on the uphill, but I still feel confident about getting under 22 on this route.  Coming in rested next week and having competition should shave off some time.

Saturday, 10/18--University Mt. and back via Pengelly

3,455', 1:38

The legs felt pretty good today, particularly on the downhills.  Moderate pace.  About 59 minutes to the summit, 39 minutes back.  Weather was nearly perfect for running, only slightly too warm.

Sunday, 10/19--South Sentinel, Sentinel Gulch, down Sentinel and back

6,071', 2:29

Another repeat from last week, a few minutes faster.  This was a midday run, so the heat got to me a bit, but I feel like I handled it well.  Note: I had to switch out from my normal running shoes because I realized the soles were falling off.  That's a first for me.

19,955', 9:04

This felt like a solid week, with some of the runs actually making my legs a little sore.  I'm not sure how many weeks with around 20k of gain I'll get in, it's about time to start petering down for the rest of the year.

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Oct. 6th to Oct. 12th

Monday, 10/6--Off

Tuesday, 10/7--Intervals w/Run Wild Missoula

5 x 2 laps around the soccer field w/warm up, cool down, ~50 minutes

The legs still felt The Bear, but I was able to run about where I usually run, maybe a little slower.  Splits were in the 3:40s, with my fastest lap being 1:45.  Perfect time of day to run, right before sunset.

Wednesday, 10/8--South Sentinel to Fire Road to Sentinel and back the short way

3,143', 1:31

An easy midday run.  My left knee felt a little weird after the longer downhills, but it would go away after a couple more minutes of running.  The heat got to me a little bit, definitely looking forward to the coming cold front (and snow!).

Thursday, 10/9--South Sentinel to Sentinel to trailhead and back

4,077, 1:51

Same route as last week, and about the same time--slightly slower, but more even on the splits this week.  My hamstrings felt a little sore, so I took it easy.  I'm still in the process of recovery, but feeling better by the day.

Friday, 10/10--Mt. Sentinel Tempo Run

1,906', 36 minutes

I knew I probably didn't have a PR in my legs yet, but wanted to get used to pushing it on the uphill.  Splits were about 24 minutes up taking the switchbacks, and 12 down avoiding the switchbacks, with more of a focus on the uphill.  I'll need to do a few more of these (but not too many!) if I'm going to even get under 21 minutes on the Hillclimb.  I think the route is a little slower going up the switchbacks, and it's certainly much more runnable.

Saturday, 10/11--South Sentinel to Fire Road and back

2,978', 1:16

Another repeat of one of last weeks runs.  About the same time, same effort.  I felt really good on this run again, and got into a rhythm where I was able to just cruise.  The uphills were slightly faster than last week, and the downhills slightly slower.

Sunday, 10/12--South Sentinel to Fire Road, Up Sentinel Gulch, Down Sentinel and back

6,066', 2:32

This was such a good run!  I wish I'd brought my camera, because I spotted a jack o'lantern off the side of the trail, and the lighting was beautiful.  A few sprinkles from short and light rain showers, along with the cool breeze, helped me to keep a good tempo.  Moderate effort, longest day since the Bear 100, and longest training day since before The Rut.

18,170', 8:36

This week may have been a bit too fast overall, but I feel good, and feel recovered.  It's two weeks out until I start a three week spree of short races, so I'll need to focus on including easier days coming up.  I'm certainly getting some quality, but probably too much.

The Swedes always have some great music happening:

Sunday, October 5, 2014

Sept. 28th to Oct. 5th

Monday, 9/28 to Thursday, 10/2--Off

Friday, 10/3--Up South Sentinel, down Sentinel Proper and back

4,288', 1:50

A brisk run (both in terms of temperature and tempo) up on the hill again.  It's good to be back, and to be able to run for awhile without having to taper or focus on any big races.  The legs responded pretty well, even going a little faster than usual, probably because I was antsy to get out.  I ran up Sentinel via the switchbacks just to get an idea of what my effort should be like for the Sentinel Hill Climb in three weeks.  I'll see how I do on recovery--right now it's going great--but I'll have to be well recovered if I want to have a shot at the 20 minute realm.  Sub 22 seems likely, sub 21 iffy, and sub 20, well ... that's three and a half weeks from now.  Be patient.

Saturday, 10/4--University + Up and Downs on Pengelly

4,369', 2:11

Went for an easy run up to the beacon, and then ran into Jimmy Grant on the way back down Pengelly.  I joined him for another lap up Pengelly, and then ran back to the house.  The legs felt alright, but I still feel a few tweaks working their way out from last weekend.

Sunday, 10/5--South Sentinel, down to the Fire Road and back

2,951', 1:15

A midday run at a moderate pace.  This hill gets so much sun that I still feel a little hampered by the heat.  This again was a little faster than usual, without having to give extra effort.  I guess this is what happens when I recover appropriately, and don't run 30,000 vert. weeks.  Feeling good.

11,608', 5:14

A pretty low key week, with a lot of rest and easing back into high turnover.  I'll see how these next few weeks go, but I might just focus on hill sprinting once my legs are back up to full speed.  Hopefully training for the Sentinel Hill Climb will translate well to Montana Cup the week after.  Just short and fast races the rest of the year.

No pictures this week, but I was psyched to see this video come out:

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Dipping Below, The Bear 100 Race Report

Driving down I-15 through the foothills of the continental divide, I was almost out of gas.  Monida is one of those towns that incorporates two states’ names just because it’s on the border, and Idahontana doesn’t quite sound the same.  It’s also one of those towns that has no services.  I had ten miles to go to Spencer, and let off the gas on the downhills, just trying to conserve and make it.  It was kind of a thrill seeing the marker dip below the red line.  The area between the red line and empty is a mental game, with what ifs? coming about each millimeter that the bar dips below.  I was entirely ready to run 20 miles, ten of them carrying a gallon of expensive, middle of nowhere gas.
                We finally made it to the pump, one of those 1950’s lift-the-bar up and pay inside pumps, at a gas station selling opals but no food.  Adriana Mckenzie was copilot, and was about to attempt her first hundred miler.  I had run the course before, but a hundred miles is always daunting.  I knew what I was getting myself into, but felt ill prepared from a lack of sleep (school related).  Adriana didn’t know what she was getting herself into, and knew it.  Her only training had been through prolific racing, sometimes twice in one weekend, and volleyball. 
                At the prerace meeting, I found a kitten.  Or, the kitten found me.  Sometimes events can be rendered into signs, and I wasn’t sure what the world was trying to tell me.  Be cuddly?  Land on all fours?  It probably didn’t mean anything, but it sure felt offnote with the rest of the race.  It didn’t make me feel like I was going to traverse 100 miles of mountains the next day. 
                I met up with former Montanan, defector to Colorado, John Fitzgerald, and we secured a camping spot in an RV park next to some folks whom I presume were homeless.  Mark McCrackin’ was his name, or something like that, and he wanted to know if we knew anyone who makes stained glass.  We let him on to our race tomorrow, and throughout the night he kept asking, “Ya nervous?”  Yes, hell yes I was nervous.  100 miles still hasn’t entered my mind as something I’m capable of.  It’s something I’ve done, but it’s not something that I could say I’ll be able to do anytime, anywhere.  Mark McCrackin’ was not making me feel any better.
                Come the start of the race, I immediately felt that we went out too fast.  Luke Nelson charged ahead, with a few others opting for the suicidal race pace, and I hung back somewhere in the teens with Jason Koop just ahead, Anna Frost just behind.  Some guy was chatting with Anna, and it seemed to be mostly him talking, but after a while it sounded like Anna finally got some breathing room from her admirer.  Silence behind, silence ahead.  I just focused on staying with Jason Koop, and we let a few guys fly past us on the first big descent around mile 15 or so.  There was still a long way to go, and a lot of time to make up ground.
                Around mile 28, Jason put some distance on me, and it was getting warm enough that I really felt like just surviving, not running.  I passed a few guys having issues on the way to Temple Fork, and caught glimpses of Anna behind every now and then, staying steady.  At every stream crossing, I stopped to wet my cotton shirt, but it seemed to only keep me cool for ten or so minutes before the heat crept back.  My splits from two years ago started to slowly gain time on my run, and I found myself passed by a spritely but serious Anna on the climb up to Tony Grove.  I was passing the red line already, unable to deal with the heat.
                Past Tony Grove, a strange thing happened for only the third time in my life--a nose bleed.  I tried pinching it and leaning back slightly, but this didn’t really work while running.  So, with no one else around to gross out, I let it gush.  It stopped after only a few minutes, but had me worried that something wasn’t right.  My shorts had gained some pretty awesome looking blood marks, though.  This happened once more at sunset, around mile 65 or so.  I have no idea what caused it, but it freaked me out a bit since I rarely get nose bleeds.  Accumulated stress, I’m guessing.  My last nose bleed prior to this happened while I was pulled over by a cop for a broken tail light.  I tend not to deal with stress, and every now and then it shows in some unexpected form.  The Bear was doing me in.
                A few hours into night, just after leaving the mile 88 aid station, my head lamp started to fade, quickly.  I decided to wait for the runner behind me, run with him and use his more powerful headlamp as a guide.  It was raining now, and I could see well enough with my dim headlamp to run, but not well enough that I felt confident about not missing a marker.  On the hill above Ranger Dip we encountered our first bit of the course falling apart.  Midstride running down a hill, the hill decided to run with me, and I started to slide until landing on my butt.  This was going to be a rough finish.  We started walking sections that were muddy, because running them would just result in a tumble.
                Ranger Dip saved what was left of my race with the spare batteries they had in stock.  I’ve never been so thankful for an aid station, or needed one so much.  I thought I would be walking until daybreak without a better light.  The last stretch was a bit muddy by now, but nothing compared to what the back of the pack saw.  Running in the middle of the ruts seemed to provide more traction, but it was still a little slow going since I really didn’t want to take a bad fall with only a few miles left.
                Somehow, I made it.  And really, my race went fairly well all things considered.  I didn’t puke or have any GI distress, or get lost, or blow up.  It was more of a slow fade into survival.  Don’t get another nose bleed, don’t fall again (one runner got a puncture wound from falling on a stick), don’t let your headlamp die.  Just make it in under a day.  And the finish line is exactly where the tank will hit empty.  Just conserve enough gas, take the downhills easy and the uphills easier, to get to the finish. 
                I have a huge amount of respect for those that had to deal with more of the mud and more of the rain.  My biggest adversary was the heat, but had I raced much longer rain would have trumped heat as a bigger rival.  This was my first experience dealing with difficult race conditions.  Things can get tough out there!  I feel that I learned more from this year’s race than from the 2012 Bear 100, run in benign weather.

A few take aways for my next 100:
Pack an extra headlamp battery if you’ll be in the dark for more than 6 hours!
If possible, use ice, rather than just cold water, in warm weather
Hokas are great, except in mud.  Bring mud shoes if mud is likely.
Have a nutrition plan and stick to it—my body doesn’t always know when best to eat or drink
Don’t carry what you won’t use (I had about 1,000 calories of unused food in my pack at the finish line)

Invest in a nice rain shell—wind jackets can only sustain so much heavy rain before it soaks through

Running with Dustin Simeons, circa mile 36

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Sept. 22nd to Sept. 28th

Monday, 9/22--Night Run up MOZ, down Fire Road

653', 24 minutes

An easy run with a loaded pack, just past sunset.  Still testing out stuff, and just trying to keep the legs moving until race day.  Not much time to run.

Tuesday, 9/23--Off

Wednesday, 9/24--Up MOZ, down Fire Road

671', 23 minutes

Same route as Monday, without a pack, in warm weather.  I was only slightly faster with the same level of effort, which means a pack it is for this race.

Thursday, 9/25--Off

Friday/Saturday--The Bear 100, 15th place

19,580', 23:34

Still processing this race.  It was in the 80s without shade for a good stretch, and after running for a few hours in that I started to fall apart, and never quite got back.  This was a rough day, highlighted by slipping around in mud towards the end of the run, but I'm glad to have held it together enough to still finish in under a day.

Race report to come.

Sunday, 9/28--OFF!

20,904', 24:21

This week was pretty much just The Bear 100.  Such a good race, just a tough year with the weather.  I learned a lot (pack extra batteries for headlamps!), but was in okay enough shape throughout the run to still enjoy it.  Still in a phase of intermittent napping.

Most pictures are from last week

           I spotted a kitten near The Bear 100 pre-race meeting.  This was not a sign of things to come.

Setting up Mountain West

Night running!

Shadow interplay in Crooked Canyon

Mountain West getting started down below

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Sept. 15th to Sept. 21st

Monday, 9/15--Off

Tuesday, 9/16--Mile Time Trial w/Run Wild Missoula

Warm up, mile, cool down, ~50 minutes

I woke up feeling pretty alright, so decided I could see how recovery was going, and see if maybe I hadn't put enough out on the course.  I ran a PR of 5:14, which was nice but helped to confirm my doubt that I had given my all at The Rut.  I may have pulled it off just because I'm fit, but I was really surprised to get under 5:30.  It was still a horrible mile, with a first lap in 72 seconds and then 80ish second laps thereafter.  And it still hurt to run that fast.  Next year I better be running a 7 minute mile.

Wednesday, 9/17--Off

Thursday, 9/18--South Sentinel/Sentinel Loop via Fire Road

2,096', 1:13

An easy run in some rain and through the first hint of fall colors (brilliant orange bushes on the backside of South Sentinel).  Legs felt okay, but the downhills felt pretty slow.  I hit the summit of S. Sentinel in just under 35 minutes--not too slow, but definitely slower than normal after a rest day.

Friday, 9/19--Night Run, University Mt.

3,112', 1:50

An easy run testing out some lighting systems and my pack for next week's big run.  I had a high power headlamp on my forehead, and a medium power light on my waist.  This definitely worked pretty well.  Running on some steep stuff let me get used to switching pivots on my forehead headlamp (low pivot for downhill, high pivot for uphill).  The run felt a little slower on more rocky terrain, but other than that splits were pretty normal.  The run started just after sunrise, so I got to experience the whole transition to darkness.

Saturday, 9/20--Sapphire Loop (Crooked Canyon, Pattee Canyon, University, South Sentinel)

3,407', 2:08

Another easy run with a pack on, including water.  I hit the end of the run just to watch part of the Mountain West track meet.  After stopping a bit to take pictures, all the cheering even had me running faster.  Despite not being fully recovered yet, I'm getting pretty excited to do another 100 miler.

Sunday, 9/21--Off (packing, studying)

I was hoping to run today, but ran out of time.  If I want to fit in any short runs this next week, I basically need to pack today for Friday's race.  Busy!

8,615', 6:01

A super light week, even lighter than expected, but it's better to err on the side of too little than too much.  Legs are feeling good, I just don't have much time to run because everything's getting squeezed into these next few days so that I can get my drop bags to Utah by 5:30 on Thursday.  Busy busy busy!  This weeks photos will go in next week's post.

Friday, September 19, 2014

Of Cinnamon Rolls, The Krar Factor, and European Attire: The Rut Report

Rob Krar had just won his 3rd top tier 100 of the year that morning, and several hundred miles north, I may have been having a Krar hallucination.  20-some miles into The Rut 50k, it looked like Rob Krar was now chasing me, and not only had he made excellent time on the drive, but he’d shaven too, and gotten a haircut.  Maybe aged a few years, as well.  He was gaining ground on a flat section, and I said, “Hey, man, what’s your name?” as he caught up to me.  I had to find out who this guy was.
“That’s my name, too.  I’m Jeff Rome.”
“I’m Jeff Krar, Rob’s older brother.”
  And that was precisely when the running started to hurt.
This was going to be a hard finish.  This was The Rut weekend, and I was getting what I came for (namely, unresponsive legs, heated competition, a bruised shin, GI distress and sleep deprivation).  It’s worth noting that “rut,” besides referring to mammalian reproduction, can also mean getting stuck, and being unable to change one’s ways to something more productive.  Both seem appropriate.  After the race, I certainly felt near bed ridden for a day, unable to do much more than watch 90s B-movies and eat ice cream.

                                                                Apt recovery

                                              The VK (aka the Hunchback 5k)

Friday—Europeans dress (and race) well—Almost Staying with a (recovering) pro—the Lone Peak VK:

On Friday morning, I carpooled down to Big Sky with a couple other folks (Alex Nichols, notably), and found the scene to be much more calm than expected.  Things only began to have a serious impression when I noticed some guys running fast hill repeats on the first section of the Vertical K course.  I really didn’t want to run yet, but I decided to check out the first part of the course anyhow—time to kill, and maybe a chance to see some of my heroes.  In retrospect, despite not spotting Kilian and proclaiming my complete admiration for everything he does, it was good to see the beginning of the course.  It was totally runnable, and much flatter than expected, perfect for a crazy fast start for all the guys wanting to be in Kilian’s sphere of greatness, if only for a little while.  I would not be one of them.

               When the race started, then, I let a few guys run their legs out on the first part, knowing that I could make up ground when the course got steep.  I felt relaxed, and settled into a comfortable pace behind Brendan Halpin for a while.  Partway up, one guy passed us both, cutting a switchback, and I was glad to see no one else follow suit.  In fact, Brendan yelled, “That’s too Euro!”  I’m not sure if the runner was a Euro or not (he wasn’t color coordinated, so was likely an American).


                I’m not sure when I started passing folks, but I think it was around when I saw a contingent of Missoula spectators cheering me on.  There were so many amazing people out on the course!  Kevin Twidwell, Kristina and Drew Pattison, John Hart, Allison Onstad, Seth Swanson (not to mention other elite runners Geoff Roes, Anna Frost, Greg Vollet)—I know there are others I’m missing, but it felt like Missoula’s trail runners were out en masse, and it pushed me on.  I left Brendan behind, passed Mr. Switchback cutter, and charged ahead with Craig Hertz, who would go on to win Saturday’s 12k, following.  He had a very bright orange shirt, helpful for keeping track of his distance in my peripherals. 
                Then I heard breathing getting closer, and while on a divergent path scrambling up the rocks, I noticed that I wasn’t being hunted by Craig, but by someone I’d only seen on the interweb.  Philipp Reiter, of Salomon, was making a move.  I tried to stick with him, but lost ground definitively in the last couple hundred feet, and had to relent.  Kilian and Emelie were cheering Philipp on, and he seemed to carry their spirit with him, not only putting a gap on me but nearly catching Utah’s John Tribbia, the current leader in the US VK Skyrunning series.  Pursuing him, however, allowed me to put a comfortable gap on Craig and have a no pressure finish for 9th place.

                                 Chasing Philipp, more like watching him slowly catch the next guy
                                                              (Credit: Myke Hermsmeyer)

                Tim Brooker greeted me at the finish line, and confirmed that yes, I was the top Montanan.  I was out of breath, and a little cold, but glad that I was able to represent Montana well in the VK, finishing ninth, and less than a minute behind the current Skyrunning VK World Series leader, Nadir Maguet.  On the way down from the mountain, I was lucky enough to share a tram with Kilian Jornet, Emelie Forsberg, Rickey Gates, Philipp Reiter, and top Missoulian masters runner John Fiore, among others.  This was a dream!

                 If you look closely at the reflection, I bet you can make out Kilian's giant calves
                                                               (picture taken in tram)

                I didn’t stick around for long, however, and drove back to Bozeman to spend less time at altitude, and grab a bunch of cinnamon rolls (5, of which three were eaten that day, each fist sized).  I stayed at fellow mountain runner Minde Erickson’s place (Thank you Minde!  And thanks for being out at the race!), which allowed me to get away from the race scene for a bit, relax, catch up with Minde (who was signed up for The Rut but didn’t race due to an upcoming muscle biopsy), and follow Run Rabbit Run 100 as Nikki Kimball slowly moved up the field, overcoming a 20+ minute deficit to put over an hour on the rest of the women’s field. 

Recovery food

  Saturday—On Being Conservative vs. Slow—Chased by a Krar—The Rut 50k:

3 AM never feels not-ungodly early.  I tried to get up early so that my body would be awake by the 6 AM start, and had a full breakfast of bacon, eggs, pancakes, a banana and a croissant, which may well be the most I’ve eaten before any race.  This was it, this was the big day, and I was yawning every few minutes, listening to Beck on the way down.  I never really felt awake before the race, despite having a cup of coffee, but figured I didn’t need to be awake until the racing actually started a few hours later, when I got to the talus field.
The start was a rush.  Runners were amped, and just like yesterday I let a lot of folks go out ahead of me, starting somewhere between 30th and 60th place (I have no idea, but it wasn’t near the front).  I started passing people, trying to find a rhythm that felt good, and pretty soon heard Frosty’s New Zealand accent, saying she couldn’t feel her nose (it was 26 degrees), and recognized Emelie’s voice in the mix as well.  I figured that, even if these women were slower than me, it wasn’t by much, and they were far more experienced racers, so I should go with experience over speed for the first part of the race (and who wouldn’t want to run with Emelie and Anna?). 
                                     Sunrise with Emelie.  Pretty damn great.

This patience served me well for the next few hours.  I tried not to think of racing, but rather just enjoyed the morning, even chatting with other runners a bit before I passed them.  I was making decent time, but kept my pace at a level I could enjoy, and still I was passing folks every few minutes.  As I moved up the field, runners became a little harder to pass, and became a little more spread out, but I told myself to hold my energy and not to worry about making any passes definitive, but rather to slowly and firmly go from one runner to the next, never pushing or surging. 
About an hour after I had last heard Emelie chit chatting behind me, I came upon a group of four at the beginning of the first talus field and started to wake up a bit and feel really good.  We hiked up to Headwaters Ridge at an easy pace, and I just focused on not wasting energy.  Some of the runners ahead of me were placing their feet poorly, and sliding down a bit, or stepping on loose rocks, so I used this climb as a recovery.  There would be plenty of racing later on, I figured. 

                                                            In the fun stuff!
                                                  (credit Myke Hermsmeyer)

The group slowly spread out, and on the service road below Challenger I found myself unable to pass someone for the first time, but we were gaining ground on other runners.  I found out later that I was running with Adam Campbell, who had a great surge in the second half, moving up to 12th place.  Pursuing Adam soon had me catching up to Oscar Casal Mir, who seemed to be having a rough patch.  Shortly after, on the out and back up to the Tram Dock, other runners with rough patches came into view, just as some of the top contenders were flying down.  It seems I had already missed the top 5 go through but saw Matty Shryock in 6th, pursued by Jason Delaney, Dan Kraft, Nick Elson, Catlow Shipek, Fulvio Dapit, Rickey Gates and Jeremy Wolfe. 

                                          Approaching the bottom of Bonecrusher!

I came upon Luke Nelson and Jimmy Grant them just before Tram Dock, a little surprised to see them so early in the race.  They ended up running the end of the course together, and I’m sure they were putting much less pressure on each other than the push I got from the next runner I passed, Jeff Krar.  Halfway up Bonecrusher, I passed Jeff and felt that I could probably put a good gap on him since I do well on steep.  Right as I left the Lone Peak aid station, he was already there.  “Okay,” I thought, “he can’t be that great on talus, I’ll put a gap on him on the descent.”  And when I got to the bottom of the hill and started traversing the first boulder field, I still heard him not far behind, skirting down the rocks.  And at the next service road, with a short and steep climb at the beginning, I hustled to get atop the first hill before he popped out of the trees, maybe tricking him into thinking I had made a large gap.  And right before the crest, there he was down below, still just a minute behind. 

                                                        Summit of Lone Peak
                                                   (credit Myke Hermsmeyer)

This guy would not let go.  At the time, I had no idea who he was.  When he caught up to me on a flat section, we chatted a bit, and I learned that he was Rob Krar’s brother.  I was running with one of the closest genetically related people to the best ultrarunner in the states.  The weather was getting warm, the technical sections were done, and I had a Krar on my heels.  These last eight miles were going to be a little less fun, with a little more hurt.  If he had had a beard, I’m sure I’d have given up right there.
When was Jeff Krar going to start running 5 minute pace and drop me?  For a while on downhill sections I would try to run at a slightly slower pace, waiting for him to make a move and ready to kick it into a higher gear, but he just stayed steady with me.  I let myself run a little easier, afraid that I’d need an extra reserve of energy for the last few miles, just waiting for Krar to give a kick.

                                     Climbing up Andesite, Jeff Krar behind

Rounding the last turn to the Andesite Aid Station, I spotted Jeremy Wolfe just as he darted away, less than 3 minutes ahead.  Yet, with less than 5 miles to go, it seemed a hard gap to close.  And arriving at Andesite, I saw no one but the relentless Krar behind me—this was just a two man race for us.  I tried surging a bit, hoping that he wouldn’t follow suit, but each surge was met step for step or built only a marginable gap that Krar then closed within minutes.  Sure enough, Krar kept the pursuit going well past the last aid, no more than 5 seconds behind after I pushed hard up the last hill of the course.
We had been within a minute of each other for over two hours, and with less than a mile to go, we decided to just finish together, stride for stride.  I was relieved to not have to try and outkick Krar, and happy to have had him as motivation for the last 12 miles or so, but mentally exhausted from being pursued for so long.  His brother, Rob, had been doing the same thing for the first several hours of RRR100 just the day before—pursuing, waiting, just wearing down his opponents for a chance to make a dominant move.  I was sure for the longest time that the same would happen to me, until the last mile when we decided to finish together. 
Tuesday: Mile time trial—Overanalyzing the race

                Eric Hoberg was several strides ahead of me, building a gap, and I was pushing hard for a mile PR (which was an unashamedly poor 5:19 for me).  If I could get a PR, I figured, then I could have run Saturday’s race faster.  Courtney was calling out the time as I crossed the line.  “5:12”.  Even adding on two seconds for the extra distance of a real mile, this still left me 5 seconds below my PR.  Shit.  I had never been so unhappy about a personal best.  Had I left too much on the race course? 

                Going out slow was smart, but it may have been too safe of a race for me to reach my absolute best on the Rut 50k course.  This means I’m coming back next year, intent on finding that perfect line between pushing my limits and staying in control.  I’ll be ready to push harder, not afraid to have solid runners behind me, shooting for 5:xx.  This year’s race was really fun, but it was almost too controlled and safe, and I definitely spent too much time chit chatting in the first half for it to feel like a solid effort.  I’m happy with my time, since it seems like the course was a bit over 30 minutes slower, yet I only slowed down 18 minutes from last year.  And I’m already looking forward to next year, where I’ll hopefully be able to fine tune this race some more and cut off another good chunk of time.  

And next year, this will happen.  Post race GI issues prevented it this year.  
Not a great suit for GI distress.