Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Training - 08/20/12 - 08/26/12

After pacing Chris at the Leadville Trail 100, I took the week off and binged.  Next week I'll get back at it - I hope.  I signed up for the Bear Chase 50 Mile Trail this week so I need to get cracking.

Monday, August 20 - 0 Miles - Rest day.  163.2 lbs.

Tuesday,  August 21 - 0 Miles - Rest day. 164.4 lbs

Wednesday,  August  22 - 0 miles - Rest day. 164.6 lbs.

Thursday,  August 23 - 0 Miles - Rest day. 165.2  lbs.

Friday,  August 24 -  0 Miles - Rest day. 165.0 lbs.

Saturday,  August 25 -  0 Miles - Rest day. 164.2  lbs.

Sunday,  August 26 -   0 Miles - Rest day. 166.4  lbs.

Nutrition - Terrible, terrible, terrible.  I told myself that after Leadville, I'd be a good boy and eat healthy - so much for that.  Name something not good for you - I ate it.  Monday to Sunday, up 3.2 lbs.

Friday, August 24, 2012

Leadville Trail 100 Pacer Report...

When Chris asked me about six weeks ago if I wanted to consider pacing him for a portion of the LT100, I was pretty excited, and definitely felt honored.  I got the buy-off from my family, and Chris and I settled on me pacing him for the 40 mile section from Twin Lakes to the Finish.  I had never paced before and I was excited about what I would learn from the experience, but mostly about the fact that I'd be helping out my good buddy, who's been a huge running mentor to me, and helping get him to the finish line in under 30 hours - or even under 25 hours (big buckle!) if things played out just right.

I arrived at Twin Lakes right at 5:00 pm.  Based on Chris's split times from past LT100's, the earliest I was expecting him was at about 6:30 (with an anticipated 7:00 - 7:30 sweet spot), so I had plenty of time to get myself sorted out.  I did a quick reconnaissance drive through the town trying to scope out a primo parking spot, but the place was absolutely frantic.  It became apparent, very quickly, that Twin Lakes was a prime spot for pacers to pick up their runners, and a also a prime crewing area.  I quickly decided to just head back out the direction I came in and take the first decent spot I could find along the road side.

Twin Lakes - The view from my parking spot.
After parking, decision number one was on what shoes to wear for my pacing duties.  Would it be my badly beat up New Balance MT110's or my brand spanking new MT1010's?  I kind of got caught in a bad position of an "old shoes" / "new shoes" cycle at the worst possible time.  After a training run in Leadville two weeks prior, my MT110's were left in really bad shape and I was hoping that a pair of MT1010's were going to be in my hands (or on my feet) much sooner than the day before the LT100.  With no drop bags to have an extra pair of shoes waiting for me somewhere down the trail, it was critical to decide on the right shoe right from the start.  It might seem like; "What's the big deal?  Just pick a shoe!"  Thing is - Chris is really depending on me.  If my shoes or feet give out, then he's on his own.  That's unacceptable.  I can't, and won't, jeopardize my ability to be there for him the whole distance.  After "breaking-in" my new MT1010's on Friday night and Saturday, just wearing them around the house and such (no runs), it ended up not being that hard of a decision.  And, it was one I was 100% confident in.  The new MT1010's it was.

Next decision - clothing.  Actually, mostly just a "shorts" or "tights" decision. The forecast for the race was looking pretty decent.  No snow or rain in the forecast, but it was going to get down into the 30's.  Again - easy decision; Tights.  I might be too warm at first, but at 4am, it would be the right decision.  For my upper body I'd start out in just a tech t-shirt and my Boulder Running Company logo'd Headsweats running cap.  I'd carry with me an extra pair of socks, arm warmers, a long sleeve zippered tech shirt and a light Saucony running jacket, plus some gloves and a warm hat.  And, let's not forgot my trusty Petzl Tikka XP 2 headlamp with two extra sets of 3 x AAA batteries, with each set in separate plastic zip baggies that were a perfect size for that.

As a pacer, I'd have full access to all of the Aid Stations - all the same stuff Chris would have access to.  Based on that, I didn't have to carry a crazy amount of nutrition and fuel.  I would carry about a dozen GU Roctane Gels, some ginger chews and a dozen each of S Caps! and Salt Stick caps. All that and 70 oz of Amino Vital in my CamelBak bladder to start out.  Everything else I'd get from the aid stations.

I'd also carry with me an "emergency kit" of sorts that had; toilet paper, band aids (big and small), Lanacane,   Nexcare waterproof tape (I love this stuff), tough utility tape, Neosporin, a Leatherman Micra, and a single AAA battery mini Mag-lite. In a separate ziplock baggie I had a map of the course, an aid station cut-off chart (which I had written on with the exact distances between aid stations and cumulative pacing totals), and an S! Caps hydration/electrolyte chart.  And, finally, what modern-day ultra-runner geek would be without his smart phone?

The jacket I tied around my waist and I zipped the gloves into one pocket and the warm hat into the other.  On an inside pocket I put easy-to-access copies of the same course map, aid station cut-off chart, and S! Caps chart as I had ziplocked in my pack - plus a pen.  All the rest of my gear and supplies went in my CamelBak Octane LR running pack.  I was good to go.

During my drive up, and while getting ready, I put down 24oz of Hammer HEED, 24oz Amino Vital and a packet of Quinoa and Brown Rice - about 750 calories total, over 3 hours, of primarily carbs.  I was feeling good about my nutrition, not only for today, but for the days leading up to race day as well.  I ate smart and I ate disciplined - which can be a major challenge for someone with a food addiction.

During the weeks leading up to the race, Chris and I talked a lot about his strategy, his fueling, his hydration.  Anything and everything we could think of that could and would affect his race.  His strategy would be to be conservative and consistent.  He'd be deliberate about his hydration, taking in extra fluids in the form of Coke at aid stations, and finishing off water bottles before re-filling.  He'd be consistent with fueling and getting his calories, taking extra gels at the aid stations.  Salt caps he would stay away from, unless he was symptomatic of low electrolytes.  In the past he has had some issues with severe swelling of the extremities and with his breathing.  His strategy this year was designed to mitigate the risk of any of that happening this year.

By 6:30pm I had checked in at the Aid Station and had signed a Pacer Waiver form - which was kind of comical.  First, there were no pens, so a big, fat, sharpie had to be used.  Second, all the waiver forms must've been photo-copied from a previously filled out form.  The volunteer told me "You're Jason Lee today.  Sign it."  I did scratch out the other person's information and put in my own at least, though the volunteer said it didn't really matter as long as I signed it.  Third, I got only one safety pin for my pacer bib. "We're running kinda low.  Just tuck it into you waist or something.  You don't need to have it visible anyways, except at the aid stations."  So, I folded it over once, and pinned it to the bottom of my shirt.

My LT100 Pacer bib.
There was a steady stream of runners coming through the AS (Aid Station) and I watched intently for Chris just outside the AS door.  I bumped into a friend of Chris's - Scott Williams - who started the race but had to drop going up Hope Pass.  He was light headed and having stomach issues, leaned against a tree to rest, passed out and a couple of people found him that way.  That was the end of his day.  We chatted for a while, and then I moved down the course to position myself in a better spot where I could get an advanced status from Chris and be better prepared for what we would need to accomplish at the AS.  Some runners were coming in strong - others - not so much.  I saw Woody Anderson when I first got there (he was with his pacer Leila Degrave), and I saw Brandon Fuller coming through with his pacer, Nick Pedatella, as well.

Twin Lakes - The yellow cones mark the road crossing.
More of Twin Lakes inbound.
I decided that I would wait down by the restrooms where runners first come into Twin Lakes.  I tried occasionally turning on my phone and hitting the mobile site for live-timing on the race.  There had been no new data since 2:04pm when he hit Hope AS outbound.  They were having problems getting data from Winfield and from Hopeless AS, I overheard at the Twin Lakes AS.  It looked like some data was coming in, but not all.

Twin Lakes - by the toilets - people waiting on inbound runners.
Just before 8:00 I started to worry - he "probably" should have been here by now - it's cooling down, and it's getting dark.  He's got no light.  All of that gear is here at Twin Lakes in his drop bag, since he fully anticipated being here before dark.  So, I headed out down the trail hoping to find him.  I was properly geared for a night run, and would go until I found him - where-ever and whenever that might be.  Fortunately, I didn't have to go very far...

"Nice work two-nine-four!"  I tucked in right on his tail between him and another runner trailing him.  He didn't make any indication that he saw or heard me so I just tailed him back to the parking lot just past the toilets, where I laid a hand on his back - "Good to see you, man.  How are things?"  He seemed pretty happy to see me.  Despite all the hollering, cheering, cow belling, and the general din from the enormous sea of people, I managed to discern that Hope Pass had taken it's toll on Chris.  Let's just get to the aid station and get things sorted.  On our walk up and over to the aid station we chatted about the status of some of the other runners he knew, that I had seen.  That was a mixed bag.  Some runners were going strong, some questionable, and some - done.

We found Chris's drop bag (hot pink and easy to spot - he had one at every AS) and got to a chair inside the little fire station, now a makeshift aid station.  We talked about his hydration and fueling a little bit and he seemed pretty dialed in on that.  In past years at the LT100, Chris had had some issues with breathing and severe swelling of extremities.  Prior to the race, we'd talked at length and done a ton of research about what the possible causes could have been.  Could it have been too much salt and too much water?  Too much salt and not enough water?  Too much water and not enough salt?  Not enough salt and not enough water?  Or was it something else?  We never really figured anything out for certain but strategized on "best guess."

I was doing everything I could to be helpful had and gotten into my pacer mode quickly - whatever that mode was, since this was a new experience for me.  I'd try to take queues from Chris and I'd try to be pro-active and helpful without being an irritant.  I also kept reminding myself about rule #1 - take care of yourself first and foremost.  A broken pacer is useless to his runner and the last thing you want is to be any kind of hindrance, even in the slightest.  This is your runner's day, not yours.  He broke out a Ziploc with a jar of Vaseline and a rubber glove. 'Whhhoooaaaaa...' I said. 'You're on your own with that one chief!" - which we had a good laugh about.  While he was changing into a new pair of shoes, I topped off his two bottles with water, grabbed some GU gels for both of us, and attempted to get some Ramen Noodles that he requested.  Of course, the soup station had just run out and a new pot had been put on to boil - "A few minutes..." the volunteer says. She did manage to get out some broth at least, though that was a pretty painful wait as there wasn't much sense of urgency from her.  I took that to Chris and went back for the noodles.  The person waiting next to me stuck her hand on the side of the soup pot to check the status for herself - "This thing is stone cold!"  I had to go to Chris with the bad news.  It was a negative message that I didn't want to delivery.  "Dude, sorry, but there aren't gonna be any Ramen Noodles for you at this stop."

If you have your heart set on something when you get to an aid station, be prepare to be disappointed.  In this race, with 800 or so runners, unless you are near the front of the pack, there are going to be lines, and Murphy's Law dictates that they are gonna be out of, or in-between re-stocking, what you really want. Personally, I crave certain foods, and those things are what I really want.  So, it's better if you can have a few things in mind that might sound good to you so as to not have your spirits totally crushed when you don't get it.

We spent close to 18 minutes at the Twin Lakes AS and now it was dark.  Definitely time for lights.  I did a final check on everything I could think of with him, while he downed some Coke.  "Got your headlamp and handheld? Got enough warm clothes; jacket, gloves, hat?  Enough gels to get to Half Pipe AS? Enough H2O?  Did you drink some Coke and get enough nutrition from the AS?  Do you need to relieve yourself from either end?  Any trash you need to ditch?"  Good to go.

Immediately out of Twin Lakes, we were walking/hiking uphill - and so was everyone else.  In past runs we had discussed our pecking order - who would lead. We had determined that Chris would lead and that I would follow. I fell right in behind him.

Whoever was behind us had a super perky pacer.  We got to hear all about her "engagement kayak" (and not "engagement ring"), and so on, and so forth...  We had a good laugh about it, as did some others that could hear her as well.  It took us some time, but we finally pulled a good enough gap where we couldn't hear her any more - except occasionally on switch-backs.  Before too long, and too much aggravation, she was gone.

It was about three miles to the Mount Elbert Mini-Station and we got there pretty fast it seemed despite the climb (~1,300') and the amount of hiking we were doing - though Chris was hiking strong, and I'd let him know it from time-to-time.  A quick check to see if he needed to stop for anything here got me an "I'm good" response.  So, we just carried on right through without stopping.

The Half Pipe aid station came a little bit sooner than I had anticipated - distance-wise at least. Since I had picked up Chris at twin Lakes, 3 hours and 9 minutes had elapsed, and we had gone only about 9.25 miles. Time was passing pretty quickly, at least for me, just chatting the miles away.  We had another good 10 minute stop here.  I would take care of getting Chris settled into a chair, find his easy-to-spot hot pink drop bag, get his bottles filled, get him some GU and this time successfully acquiring some Ramen Noodles for both him and me.  I was running low on fluids, so I topped up with 70oz of GU Roctane.  Of course, the cap on my bladder didn't go on correctly, and sure enough, freezing cold Roctane spilled all over my legs, soaking my tights.  Son of a B*$*&%!!!  This reminded me of how I really need to research some different packs.  While there are things I like about my CamelBak Octane LR, there are more things I dislike.  Filling the bladder is high on that dislike list.  Once I got the bladder fixed and zipped in, and on my back, ready to roll, I found that I couldn't get any liquid out of the mouth piece.  G*DD*#%$ it!!!  So, off with the pack again, to fix the tube where it inserts into the bladder.  This was actually the second time today that this had happened to me (the first being at Twin Lakes while waiting for Chris).  I have no idea how it managed to pop out all by its little self, because it takes me about 2 tons of force to either insert it, or to pull it out myself.

We'd grab some Cokes, suck down some GU's, pocket a bunch of regular GU gels and some Roctane gels, and off we'd go leaving Half Pipe AS behind us.  Only about 30 miles left to go.  Ugh.

Both of us seemed to be peeing a lot, but Chris even more-so than me.  I wasn't too worried about it, but Chris seemed a bit concerned.  I took it as a sign of being well hydrated, as long as the color was good - which it was for both of us.  It was getting pretty chilly, and our pace didn't have us sweating all that much.  I had gone from TL all the way to Half Pipe with just a t-shirt and arm warmers.  Only at HP had I finally put on my light running jacket and my gloves.  If we're not sweating it out, then I guess we'd be peeing it out.  I think Chris was mostly worried about peeing out electrolytes, but other than his breathing, everything seemed to be fine.  I'd quiz him fairly often about dry mouth, being lightheaded, his stomach, craving salt, craving sweet, etc., etc.  Everything always checked out OK, but now his breathing was starting to deteriorate.  We'd have to monitor that, but there wasn't a whole lot we could do about it.

From Half Pipe to Fish Hatchery was probably the most challenging of the night for me.  I was getting really tired, as in sleepy, from being awake since about 7:00am the previous morning, even though it wasn't really that late at night yet.  I could only imagine how Chris felt having started running at 4:00am the previous morning.  Back home, my wife and girls would be sleeping soundly in their nice, warm, cozy, beds.  I spent quite a bit of time admiring the clear and moonless sky.  The stars were twinkling brilliantly and I would take time to pick out a few of the constellations, and planets, that I could identify.  While we did chat a lot, there were also periods of silence, where all there was was the sounds of footfalls and of breathing.  It gave me time to think and reflect about how of big a world it is, and how much of it there is to explore.  I imagined how this race would look to someone watching from high above - and how we'd all look like little ants, carrying glowing beacons of light, carving a long trail through these enormous mountains. This was awesome.

We went through an area called Treeline, where there were tons of cars parked, and people out cheering us on - though mostly from comfy chairs and all bundled up like they were in the middle of the frozen tundra.  We did a long stretch of pavement/road running, not too long after Treeline.  I remember at mile 15 thinking, "This road nonsense is kicking the crap outta me" and my legs were now starting to feel it.  I kept thinking, "If I'm feeling it, Chris has it 100 times worse, after 75 miles now."  This stretch between Half Pipe and Fish Hatchery we got passed a lot - and that was mentally taking it's toll on Chris I think.  He'd comment a lot about how many people were passing us.  I'd try to spin some positivity into it.  "You probably passed them ages ago, and now they're trashing themselves - we'll be passing them again before the day is done."  I'm not sure he was convinced but I was trying my best to keep the mood positive.

The psychological effect in these ultra endurance events is usually bigger than the physical aspect, especially in the later stages.  You have to try and stay positive, and build-up your runner - but sometimes you have to wonder if just commiserating with them might end up having a positive effect as well.  A "misery loves company" kind of thing.  It's also a thin line between trying to push a bit, and pushing too much.  During the whole night I gently suggested, maybe five times only, that we try a little jog.  Chris was good about pushing when he felt he could push.  I'd give the occasional speech about getting some fast twitch muscles in action again and maybe that would help things feel better.  Every so often I'd give him a "Great effort there..." or "You're looking strong right now..." - and I wasn't BS'ing him.  Considering the situation, he really was doing very well.  Chris's lungs were a real problem now though.  We discussed a lot about what we thought the cause was.  He was short of breath and could not get a deep breath in at all, so much so that at times, even short little jogs were impossible.  We chalked it up to the altitude, exertion, the dust being kicked up by other people, and the smoke in the air from all of the wildfires burning in the North West.  He had no swelling of extremities and was still peeing a lot - probably every 20 or 30 minutes.  I wasn't a whole lot different with that schedule.  Our fueling schedules were on track still too.  All night long I'd time between 30 to 45 minutes for fuel and would give Chris indicators like - "2 minutes until 30 minute GU."  Sometimes he'd want to wait until some specific geographic marker before fueling if it was really close by.  He never went much more than 45 minutes between fueling though and I stuck to his schedule for the most part too.

It was getting colder as the night went on, maybe in the mid-40's now and Chris was still in his shorts.  We'd talked about getting warmer gear on him, most specifically his tights, at Fish Hatchery.  He wanted to accomplish that without removing his shoes, since he had those dialed in perfectly, and didn't want to muck that up.

About 16.5 miles, and five and a quarter hours since first meeting Chris at Twin Lakes, we finally got to Fish Hatchery at 1:45am.  Chris wanted to try some broth here, but took one sip and that was it.  No more.  He'd be sticking with gels, water, and Coke.  I, on the other hand, greatly enjoyed a couple of cups of noodles.  Tonight, that seemed to be my thing.  That, and Coke.  I helped him get his tights on, which took some real doing, and we must've looked pretty comical - though the people passed out on the medical cots and others huddled up to space heaters probably had other, more serious, things to worry about.  Chris wasn't even close to being voted "in worst shape" at this AS.  It was pretty hot in the AS, and when we finally stepped outside after another 10 minute'ish stop, taking down some Coke and gels just before as usual, we got hit with a wall of freezing cold.

Fish Hatchery AS - 1:45am

Fish Hatchery AS - 1:45am

Fish Hatchery AS - 1:45am
Chris was freezing, and so we tried to get to a good pace to generate some body heat.  I was still felling good in my same gear and had offered Chris my warm, long-sleeve, tech shirt a few times.  I was also now carrying a warmer jacket for him in case he really needed it.  Pacers are allowed to mule for their runners, but Chris wasn't so into that.  The jacket though, I pretty much insisted on carrying.

We still had Powerline to climb too, and that would generate some heat - fast.  Powerline is 3.5 - 4.0 miles of some serious climbing (while not the biggest of the day for Chris, it was the biggest for me with ~1,500 of climbing and +20% grade at times).  This was probably the toughest part of the night.  The pace was painfully slow with lots of stops to relieve ourselves.  We had developed a good technique where Chris would unbuckle his waist pack, I'd take it and hold onto it while he hit the woods, and then I'd hold it in a manner where he could easily get it back on again.  The tights and shorts combo he had on for warmth made taking the belt off an unfortunate necessity.  At some point during the climb, about six hours since turning it on when leaving TL, I had to change my headlamp batteries, which I timed with a visit to the woods for Chris.  Chris did end up holding his flashlight for me, once he was done, so that I could see what I was doing - since holding it in my mouth wasn't working out so great.  Six hours on expensive lithium batteries seemed pretty weak to me.  Chris's 4 x AAA Black Diamond lamp was still going strong though.  Only three more hours or so of still needing the headlamps, and then dawn would break.  The sun would be a welcome sight.

Powerline - 3:00am.
By now, with our 20:00 - 30:00 average pace climbing Powerline (by far the slowest pace of the night), I was starting to watch the time and AS cut-offs very closely indeed.  Next stop, and the last AS, was May Queen at mile 26 from Twin Lakes.  There was still 13.5 miles to go from there.

A short while after summiting Sugarloaf (11,100' or so), we hit Hagerman Road.  Chris found some good legs and we opened it up and made some great progress to the Colorado Trail section, passing a few folks along the way.  I let know he was kicking some serious ass now.  It felt good for me to get some fast twitch muscles working again after climbing Powerline for an hour and forty minutes.  Once at the Colorado Trail, we couldn't move too fast due to footing and slower people in front of us, but we were passing more people than were passing us.  Still, anyone who did pass us, Chris was none too happy about.  I was watching my Garmin even more closely now.  The 30 hour cutoff is getting tight and we gotta keep the pace up.

We got to May Queen at just over 9 hours elapsed.  Chris's pink drop bag was waiting for him, just like they had been at all the aid stations, and we ditched his now un-needed jacket that I'd been carrying.  He wanted only water, but only half bottles this time.  He'd cut back on his fluids, which still seemed to be OK.  I gave Chris his bottles back and he told me that he would head out and for me to just catch up with him since I still had to sort myself out.  I had a volunteer help me fill my bladder - with no issues this time.  When I filled up at Fish Hatchery, it was a super sweet GU drink, and so I added just water this time to dilute it.  I was surprised to hear that there were pancakes at this AS but they were all out right now.  Bummer.  Those would have hit the spot.  So, I ended up going with noodles and Coke yet again.  Probably for the best since if it ain't broke, don't fix it.  It had gotten even colder, now that it was almost 5am, and we were down near Turquoise Lake.  It was probably in the mid-30's now.  This was a sub 10 minute stop this time, and I took off down the road after Chris.

A short while later dawn was finally breaking, and there was some beautiful scenery to behold, where the sun was starting to illuminate the sky from behind the swath of 14ers to the east of Leadville.  It was a beautiful, clear, morning and I was anxious for the sun to peak out and start to warm our chilly, tired, bones.

Inbound from May Queen along Turquoise Lake.

Inbound from May Queen along Turquoise Lake.
Somewhere around here, I let Chris know that we needed to pick up the pace.  Twenty minutes miles isn't going to cut it.  That seemed to light a fire under him and he found some new life.  I almost couldn't believe how strong he started running.  Again, he was kicking ass and I continued to let him know it.  "Dude!  What did you take at the AS?!?"  He'd joke that it was just me, cracking the whip on him.  I'm not sure how many people we passed along the lake, but it was a lot, and I'm pretty sure no-one passed us.  We were doing an average of 13:00 - 15:00 pace now.  We were even running some of the rollers.  We had more close calls on this section, almost eating dirt due to tripping or kicking obstacles, than any other section.  Most others we saw were walking, and were going to be very close to the 30 hour cut-off going the pace they were.  All night long there had been a lot of "Great job...", "Nice work...", "Keep it up..." etc., being exchanged back and forth while people (us included) were moving like zombies.  Now, we were hearing "Great job!", "Nice work!" but with enthusiasm and I think probably a bit of shock and surprise about how well we were moving on the trail so late in the game.  Chris had commented in the middle of the night how much he appreciated me doing all the talking to the other runners around us for him, so that he could conserve his breath.  There is great camaraderie on the trails between everyone out there - and everyone is pulling for and cheering on everyone else.  What a great sport, with great people.

Early morning mist on Turquoise Lake.

Turquoise Lake.

Chris, somewhere along Turquoise Lake.

On the railway service road.
Just before mile 34 (Chris's mile ~94) we stopped for what would be our final pit stop, plus Chris had his first blow-out of the night and so had to re-tie.  There is some crazy downhill stuff here with crazy loose rock footing - my crappy picture doesn't do it justice.  It absolutely killed my knees and my quads.  Fortunately at the bottom was the dirt road that leads to a paved section of Turquoise Lake Rd and we were able to keep moving well on it.

Right around mile 34 (for me).
The last 3 miles of this course is nothing short of a total beotch.  I was hurting and ready to be done now.  There is a section where you take a hard left off of a railroad service drive and hit a nasty, though short, climb through some rough terrain.  I had looked down at something for a minute, and when I looked up, Chris was about 75' ahead of me picking his way through people!  We'd been banking such good time with the pace along the lake, Chris was shooting for a sub 29:00 finish now.

I kept checking my Garmin and doing the math.  The 29 hour finish was in the bag for him.  We could even crawl it in if needed, we had banked so much time coming around the lake.  We didn't crawl, but we did end up walking a lot of that last 3 miles.  During the walk, Chris showed me his now swollen hands.  The cutting back on the drinking, and therefore lack of urinating, had had an effect - but with only a couple of miles to go, it would be irrelevant.  When we reached the pavement with less than a mile to go, Chris picked up the pace again.  28:45 was on now.  I had thoughts of "Right, I'm smoked.  Tell Chris you're going to drop back and you'll see him at the end."  But there was no way I was going to bail on him now.  There's only another half mile and I'm going to see him to the finish.  I started thinking about what a great journey it had been.  And even though it was extremely tough, I had a ton of fun doing it.  I started wondering if by some small chance my wife and girls would be at the end waiting to cheer us on.  Emotions started to well up inside me and I was teary eyed coming up the avenue towards the finish line. I fell back and told Chris to go claim his victory and watched as he broke the tape at the line.  I was smoked - and Chris was smoked - but I managed to succeed in my tiny little part of helping Chris in his monstrous achievement of finishing his fourth LT100.

Chris's finish - 28 hours 45 minutes.

28:45 - LT100 Finisher - Chris 'The Agile Fox' Boyack!

The Finish Line - taken from outside the medical tent.
I ended up running 39.38 miles with Chris in 12 hours, 23 minutes. Climbing 4718'.  A pace of 18:53.  My 3rd, albeit unofficial, ultra finish.

Here's the Garmin Connect data.

Elevation & HR

Elevation & Pace

HR & Pace
A huge congratulations goes out to my good friend The Agile Fox!  You came in to Twin Lakes looking and feeling pretty rough - but you gutted it out achieved a great finish.  Well done.  It was an honor and a pleasure pacing for you.

I'll do a post "Reflecting on Pacing at the LT100" in the near future once I've had time to actually do some reflecting.

And finally, as always, thanks to my wife, Diana, and my two little girls (all the loves of my life) for putting up with all my craziness.  I love you.

Monday, August 20, 2012

New Balance MT1010 Minimus Amp Review - UPDATED 10/06/12, 11/13/12

So, I decided to go with the MT1010's, untested, for pacing Chris for the last 40 miles of the Leadville Trail 100 (read my pacer report)- and it turned out to be the right choice.  Here's why...

You probably already know by now that this shoe is a 'minimalist' shoe with a 4mm heel to toe 'drop'. It is a very durable and rugged shoe, designed for trail running in the most technical of terrains, and over long, ultra, distances. With that being said, I'm going to keep this review simple, like myself, so that you don't need to be a shoe expert to understand it (I hope).

As soon as the 1010's arrived on my doorstep on Friday night (I pre-ordered them from runningwarehouse.com) I laced 'em up. I wanted to get maximum time in them before Saturday night to help me make the best choice for shoe selection for Leadville (vs. the MT110's). I wore them around the house all Friday night, out and about doing errands on Saturday, and during my 2.5 hour drive to the Twin Lakes Aid Station - but no runs.

The first things I noticed were the weight, the tread, the big toebox, and the durability/quality of the upper (vs. the MT110) - and I liked what I was seeing and feeling.

Considering the cushioning, and the overall quality of the shoe, they are very light.  They look like they should weigh much more. Official stats tell me that they weigh 7.5oz, even with the extra cushion, vs. the MT110's. So, they are lighter than the MT110's (7.75oz), yet provide greater comfort and protection.

The tread on these shoes are amazing. The toe half of the outsole have directional tread that just dig into the terrain, and grip like crazy, for climbing. The heel half, just the opposite - directional tread for digging into the downhills so you don't slip and fall on your butt. I found that they offered tremendous traction in all the different terrain that Leadville offered up.

MT1010 directional tread
The toebox is big. One thing I felt about the MT110's was that the toebox could have been a bit bigger. When my feet inevitably swelled on long runs, the toebox got tight and my toes would hit the ends (causing me to lose a toenail in one instance). After 40 uninterrupted miles, and 12 plus hours in the 1010's, they are as comfortable, and fit just as well, as when I first put them on. No risk of losing a toenail in these. That also indicates that my foot is pretty locked-in, without much foot movement in the shoe - even on the downhills where your toes tend to jam into the ends. Not in these.

More than a couple of times at Leadville I kicked or tripped on rocks, roots, and other random things. One 'something' I tripped on at about the 30 mile mark practically ripped the shoe right off my foot. Had I been wearing the 110's, and knowing the durability of the uppers on those, I have little doubt my shoe would have been destroyed. The 1010's - not a mark on them, other than where the dust was rubbed off. I love the tough synthetic uppers on these.

MT110's - not very durable uppers. Lots of patch-work stitching.
Something definitely not to be overlooked in this shoe, is the Rock Plate in the outsole - with the extra cushion and the very flexible rock plate in the sole, I don't remember stepping on anything, over the 40 miles of rough terrain that Leadville offered up, that made me say 'OOOWWW!'  Definitely superior sole protection.

Blisters, hot-spots, rubbed raw, foot troubles? Not a one. At no point in time, over 40 miles and 12 plus hours of Leadville, did I have even one small concern about my feet. Were my feet feeling it? Well, sure. That amount of time on your feet, over that kind of terrain, and you're gonna feel it - no matter what shoes you are wearing. Was I 100% sure that the shoes would come out unscathed during the whole experience? I did have my doubts about that. Were those doubts justified in the end? Nope.

Uppers - a little dusty after one 40 mile, 12+ hour, run in Leadville, CO. 
Outsoles - after one 40 mile, 12+ hour, run in Leadville, CO.
Another thing I like about these shoes is that the tongue is attached to the shoe last (body) all the way up along the lace holes, which prevented very much junk getting into the shoe. I had a little bit of sand in there by the end, but nothing more than that.

And one last thing to note - I read in some pre-release reviews that you would have to tighten and cinch the laces so much with these shoes that the toebox would deform and buckle - I did not have this problem on the D width shoe. If it was the 2E version, then I could totally see having that problem.

I really do a lot of comparison of the MT1010's to the MT110's - because they are my favorite shoe - or should I say 'were' my favorite. After Leadville, the MT1010 is my new shoe-of-choice.

UPDATE: 10/06/12

On 09/24/12 I noticed something with my MT1010's, post-run. After 140 miles in them, and being only a little over 5 weeks old, the uppers are showing signs of wear. It's not severe, but it is a concern.

MT1010's - 3 wear points - same on the other shoe.
The two upper highlighted spots seem to be 'pucker points' on the shoe. You know, a place where the fabric bends and flexes a lot. The seemingly stronger, honeycomb-like, material seems to be intact still though, and might be helping to reinforce and hold things together. Another thing I've noticed is that now that my feet and toes have made their impression in the liner/in-sole, the small ridge that has formed along my toes, has started to irritate the very ends of my toes. The ridge is in both shoes, but for me, irritates the right foot index and middle toes only. Any long runs and I'll have to be taping the ends of my toes or their could be problems. My upcoming race on 09/30 has 12 water crossings in total and so we'll see how things go with that. The water will definitely throw a new variable in there. I almost wish now that I had tested the MT1010's without socks for a period of time, but, based on my sock-less MT110 experience (not good), I decided against it. Testing them out wet would have been ideal too.

The latest - Post Bear Chase Race - 09/30/12 (report) and here is what these spots look like now (though I only managed 9 water crossings in them before my DNF - and wished even more that I had tested these both sock-less and wet);

MT1010's - approximately 190 miles & 6 weeks old.
I e-mailed New Balance and informed them of the issues I was having when I first noticed it on 09/24, and sent them the first highlighted picture too.  And they were totally awesome and said they would replace my shoes, free of charge!  Having never dealt with New Balance support before, I was almost expecting the terrible customer service I got from Merrell when the soles of my Trail Gloves wore right through after only 200 miles in them.  You can read about that experience here if you so choose.  New Balance, based on their stellar customer service alone, has a customer for life in me.  And I still love the shoes but do wonder how long it would be until the structural integrity is totally compromised - like in the MT110's.

I'll post another update after the return process is complete and I have my new shoes.

UPDATE 11/13/12:

Sorry, I've been tardy - away on vacation and that kind of thing. New Balance had a brand new pair of MT1010's in my hands less than two weeks after I sent mine in. I haven't run in them yet as I've been running in my Vibram Five Fingers, Merrell Trail Gloves, and MT110's. Overall, I'm very happy with the MT1010's, but it's disappointing that they didn't find a stronger, tougher, more robust, material to construct the uppers out of.  While not a 'Minimus' shoe, I think I may try out the NB MT1210 'Leadville', when they come out early in the new year. And so continues the search for the 'perfect' shoe - fit, performance, longevity, and overall value.  The MT1010 is darn close though.

Training - 08/13/12 - 08/19/12

8.33 miles this week, leading up to pacing Chris in the LT100.  Kept it light and ate well, though I didn't get as much sleep as I would have liked.

Monday, August 13 - 0 Miles - Rest day. 165.2 lbs.

Tuesday,  August 14 - 6.18 Miles, 9:58 pace, 155 HR. 166.0 lbs. One of my better outings at The Bluffs and I felt really strong. Didn't walk/hike even once, which I'm not sure I've ever done there. Did have some GI distress after mile 3 for reasons unknown.

Wednesday,  August  15 - 0 miles - Rest day. 161.8 lbs.

Thursday,  August 16 - 2.15 Miles, 11:04 pace, 143 HR. 161.4  lbs. Very easy taper run. Didn't feel great, but not too worried about that on such a short and slow outing.

Friday,  August 17 - 0 miles - Rest day. 162.0 lbs.

Saturday,  August 18 - 159.8 lbs Sunday,  August 19 - 161.8 lbs - Leadville Trail 100 pacing duty for Chris! Report to come!

Nutrition - Did really well this week, knowing I had to shave off a few pounds and be set with good nutrition leading up to Saturday's pacing.  No gluten, no dairy, and no crap - but still no red-meat either (using chicken, fish, and plant protein sources).  Thursday, Friday, and Saturday were really light fiber days (hoping to avoid GI issues), with emphasis being on carbs. Lots of smoothies! I think I have my coffee based smoothie tweaked just right now, so I'll post that soon.

Saturday, August 18, 2012

MT1010's Minimus Amp have arrived...

The New Balance MT1010 Minimus Amp arrived yesterday evening.  First impressions... They are awesome. 

MT1010 Minimus Amp - Right outta the box

I was concerned a bit about a review I had read about the toe-box being so big that it would bunch, and that you would have to cinch the laces completely in, and not have a good fit.  You can see from the pic below that I had no issues with the size 11.0, D width, shoe. I do have wide feet, but I think your feet would have to be like cross country skis for bunching to happen.

MT1010 Minimus Amp - See!  No bunching!
I've been wearing them non-stop since they arrived (not to bed tho!) and I'm really on the fence about wearing them in Leadville tonight. They are so comfortable, and fit so well, that I don't think I would have any problems with them.

I guess it'll be a game time decision on the old MT110's vs. the new, un-tested, MT1010's.

Anyways, Chris (#294) should be arriving at the Hope Aid Station any minute now - timing - he's doing great so far. Time for me to do my final prep and head out on the road. Should take me about 3 hours to get to the Twin Lakes Aid Station from home.

I'll attempt to upload the route to Endomondo periodically during the run, but no guarantees.

And, If I do go with the MT1010's tonight, I'll be sure to do a review on them.

Friday, August 17, 2012

Frankenshoes ready for LT100 pacer duties...

Chris, the Agile Fox, will be wearing bib #294 for the LT100 this weekend. I'll meet him at Twin Lakes AS, with the newly doctored New Balance MT110 'Frankenshoes', to pace him to the finish. There is a slight chance I'll go with the MT1010's, which will be on my doorstep tonight, but it's doubtful. Best of luck to all the racers, pacers, and crews out there!

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

New Balance MT1010...

Just ordered a pair of the New Balance MT1010 from runningwarehouse.com. They get released tomorrow and I'll have them in my hands on Friday. I was really hoping to have this shoe for pacing Chris in the LT100 on Saturday, since my MT110's are so trashed, but I don't think it would be a wise move to run 40 (tough) miles in a new style shoe and that are straight out of the box. Been waiting on these since about January since reading a review on irunfar.com about them, and so am super excited!

Monday, August 13, 2012

Training - 08/06/12 - 08/12/12

13.44 miles this week. Would have liked to have double this number but a slow recovery from the Leadville run on Saturday night made that impossible. Less than a week now until the LT100 where I'll be pacing the Agile Fox from Twin Lakes to the finish - about 40 miles.

Monday, August 6 - 0 Miles - Rest day.  167.0 lbs.  Sore like crazy from the Leadville run. Smart eating, though I've been hitting the Roasted Red Pepper Hummus a lot (not paleo).  Haven't been eating any red meat lately either.  I'm curious to see how that's going to affect me.

Tuesday,  August 7 - 0 Miles - Rest day. 162.6 lbs  Still sore like crazy and starting to wonder if the lack of red meat is affecting my recovery. I seem to recover really fast when eating red meat. Down 4.4 lbs after a day of urinating like crazy on Monday. Makes we wonder about an article I read not long ago (I'll have to try to find it again) about the body retaining water in the muscles to help with recovery - or maybe it was just my salt levels returning to normal.

Wednesday,  August  8 - 0 miles - Forced rest day. 161.6  lbs. Close friends from Michigan and Scotland arrive!

Thursday,  August 9 - 0 Miles - Forced rest day. 162.8  lbs. Planned early morning run got postponed until Friday. Coors Brewery tour, Lookout Mountain and a drive through Evergreen and Red Rocks was on the plate today.

Friday,  August 10 - 6.3 Miles, 10:42 pace, 151 HR. 163.8 lbs. Early morning Highlands Ranch Back Country run with David and Chris. First, long awaited, run with David was great!  He got to meet Chris and to get a little taste of CO trail running.

Saturday,  August 11 - 0 Miles - Forced rest day. 166.8  lbs.  The Beaver Creek 10k with David never happened.  Everyone was trashed from their cross-country drive and from a full day in the car touring around Rocky Mountain National Park on Friday, and a busy Thursday too. Maybe next year.

Sunday,  August 12 -  7.14 Miles, 10:54 pace, 148 HR. 164.2  lbs. Another early morning run, after a late night out in LoDo Denver. Took David to The Bluffs and he did a great job on the over 700' of climbing!

Nutrition - Monday and Tuesday were good. After that, not so good. Lots of wine, beer, and over-eating. I really need to get things back on track with my training diet. My stomach was killing me all day on Saturday and so I managed to at least stay away from gluten and dairy on that day. I feel so much better when I stay away from gluten and dairy - but it's so hard - even with need to stay light, and need to drop 10 lbs.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Leadville Night Run - 08/04/12 - 08/05/12

Late Saturday afternoon the Agile Fox and I hit the road to Leadville, CO. We were on our way to do a group training run, at night, of the last 21 miles or so of the LT100 race course - which is only two weeks away. Chris is a veteran of the LT100 and will again be racing it this year. A few weeks back he threw out the idea of me pacing him for a portion of it. I was super excited, and honored, that he asked me, and so I kicked the tires on it with Diana. She was, and still is (I think), fully supportive of the idea! So, what better way is there than to actually run a portion of the course in order to get some experience and get an idea of what to expect?

Before I get started - Brandon Fuller was the gracious host of this Unofficial LT100 Night Run and so huge thanks to him and his family for organizing the event, opening up his house and providing food and drinks both pre and post run, showers, beds, etc., etc., etc..  It was a great time with great people!  You can read Brandon's report and see some of his pics here.

We started out at Fish Hatchery (which is an aid station for the race) at 8:00 pm and would run back to Brandon's house, which is only a little ways away from the true finish line of the race. I was super nervous since there were people like Nick Clark and Mike Aish (former New Zealand Olympian) out for this run - and even Darcy Africa showed up as I would later learn. All massive, elite-level, talents. I was also really nervous about the climbing and the altitude, since all of these things would be firsts for me. Turns out I was right to be nervous. 

The view from Fish Hatchery in Leadville, CO.
People gathering for the run.

For me, an 8:00 pace on flat, even, ground at 6,000' is really, really, good.  Well, we started out at almost that pace from Fish Hatchery which is at about 9,640'. I'm sure that was a super easy pace for pretty much everyone involved in this run, but for me that was a challenge. It took all of two minutes before my legs, mostly my calves and hamstrings, were on absolute fire. At that altitude, with much less oxygen than what I'm used to, the lactic acid buildup starts fast. The first mile and a quarter are gentle, paved, roads - then you hang a left - and hit Powerline.

Powerline - I'd only heard about it , mostly from Chris, and had read about it some. I wasn't disappointed in the hype. What a monster. Crazy thing is, while it's the biggest climb for this night run, it wasn't even close to being the biggest for the race. After experiencing Powerline this night, I'm glad that I won't be climbing Hope Pass (12,600') anytime in the near future. The climb out of Twin Lakes (where I will start pacing Chris) and doing Powerline again will be quite enough thanks very much - and will be a greater challenge than either of my two previous 50 mile races I suspect.

By the time we hit Powerline I was already near the back of the pack, though I could still see the lead pack up ahead of me climbing. This part, for me, was completely un-runable. I started hiking and it wasn't long before I was passed by everyone else and was pretty sure I was the last person. I was gasping for air, as I tried to get my breathing regulated and get as much air in as I could, hoping that I could get my burning legs under control. The strange thing was that my heart rate was completely normal. I guess I was moving so slow, because my legs were total crap, that my heart rate stayed down pretty well. We hit a nice little downhill at about mile two, which offered a little relief, but it was short-lived and then it was back to climbing.

Chris had warned me of the multitude of false summits, and so I was mentally ready for that. At no point in my mind would I tell myself - "This HAS to be the top!" In fact, I didn't even count the 'summits', but just had it in my head to keep pushing upwards. I wondered a lot too about how far ahead of me the lead pack was: 2 minutes, 5 minutes, 10 minutes, more?

Brandon had said the light would probably be good until we reached the top of Powerline - but I had to turn my light on pretty early so that I could see the wide, but rugged and sometimes treacherous, trail.  I'd check my Garmin occasionally for the grade and saw 20% and 21% a few times. Man - steep stuff.

At times I would try hiking backwards, trying to alleviate my burning legs, and to see if I really was last - but that wasn't much of an option due to the footing and being afraid I would eat it. If there was anything at all even close to flat, I would try to 'run' it.

I tried to always keep someone (or their lights at least) in sight, or within ear-shot, so as to not fall too far back - and I did a pretty good job of that.  Either way, I knew that Chris would be waiting for me at Top of Powerline. He told me that what he wanted to get out of this run was a good hard effort to the Top of Powerline, and from then on, he was good to coast at whatever pace I could manage.  Poor guy...

After about 5 miles, and 1.25 hours, I finally made it to the top (11,111' according to my Garmin). Chris was there, and a couple of others that were going to head down the way we came up. Everyone else had moved on, not surprisingly to me. The worst was over, and the 16 miles still left was mostly downhill or pretty flat - but still challenging stuff.

By now it was pitch black, and Chris and I just carried on pretty much like it was any other lunch time run - though with lots of doubt in my mind now about if I'd be able to do 40 miles of this is just two weeks time. We had some dirt roads, and some jeep trail kinda stuff, before turning off on to the section of the Colorado Trial. This section was spectacular just as Chris had said it would be. This was very forested and very technical (at least for me) single-track but still it was mostly downhill - though my legs did not feel any better.  Anything even slightly uphill we would pretty much walk.

We talked a lot about salt intake, fueling, hydration, aid station strategy, and that sort of thing while the miles rolled past. I told Chris my concerns about pacing him for 40 miles - but he didn't seem concerned in the least. It was a beautiful night, with perfect weather, great trails, with good company and conversation.

At about 9.6 miles we rolled into May Queen (another race day aid station) where there was actually a real aid station setup!  George Zack and some other 'volunteers' had setup a mobile aid station where we partook of some beer and some kettle chips. Man, that hit the spot! There were a bunch of people hanging out waiting for a lift back to base as they were calling it quits for various reasons. Another runner actually came in after us too! I couldn't believe that there was anyone actually behind me, but it sounded like maybe he got lost a little bit. It was getting pretty cold out now and people were shivering, so off we went (at the 2:20 mark), having stopped for about 8 minutes or so to fuel and chit-chat, with another almost 12 miles to go.

Only about a 1/2 mile down the road from May Queen someone else had setup another aid station for us! Awesome! We had some Coke and some M&M's and away we went yet again. We ran past a ton of campsites, choking on the thick camp fire smoke the whole way. I noticed how raw my lungs felt around this time, and would intermittently have coughing and the hiccups simultaneously. Must be the altitude or something. Even Chris got the hiccups a few times. Bizarre.

From May Queen and around Turquoise Lake was about 7 miles at 10,000'. You could probably make some really good time here, if you weren't completely trashed like I was. Chris keep telling me not to worry about it - on race day after having done 80 - 90 miles already, he wouldn't be moving very fast anyways.

The Agile Fox running along Turquoise Lake.

After the lake portion (4:15 elapsed), with only about 4 miles left to go, time seemed to really drag for me.  We ran some dirt roads, even a little bit of pavement, jeep trails, etc.. One short, but steep section (downhill) I could only tip toe down because the footing was so bad with tons of loose rock and small boulders, and my headlamp was starting to dim. I had spare batteries, but couldn't be bothered changing them. Between Chris's dimming headlamp, his Fenix handheld, and my headlamp, we'd just plug on.

Finally, after 5 hours and 7 minutes, shortly after 1:00am, we arrived back at Brandon's. That was the toughest 21 miles I had ever done - and maybe even tougher than my two 50 milers - which Chris says he doubts. I wonder too how much Friday and Saturday's poor nutrition hindered my performance. I didn't eat well on either of those days (tons of wheat and dairy) and suffered a bit with some GI distress pretty much the entire run.

As tough as it was though, I'm very happy to have done this run. Not only did I get to meet some great people, but it was a huge learning experience and I think it will be a big help to me, and most importantly to Chris too, knowing what to expect on race day(s).

The Frankenshoes (New Balance MT110's) didn't fare so well this run.

Good luck to all the racers and to all the pacers and crews for the LT100!

And, as always, thanks to Diana and my girls for continuing to support my craziness!  I love you!

Garmin Connect Data

Training - 07/30/12 - 08/05/12

39.19 miles this week.  Just trying to be conservative leading up to the LT100 on August 18th.  Better to be under-trained and rested than over-trained and spent.

Monday, July 30 - 0 Miles - Rest day.  162.2 lbs.

Tuesday, July 31 - 7.79 Miles, 11:30 pace, ??? HR. 161.0 lbs.  I forgot my Garmin at home today.  I'm sure the distance and pace aren't 100% accurate, but Endomondo probably got it close enough.  Did an 'easy' pace today at the Boneyard with Chris which was anything but easy.  It was a massive suffer-fest, and hot.  Nutrition - good through the day, and then authentic Mexican at our neighbors, with drinks.

Wednesday, August 1 - 10.10 Miles, 9:36 pace, 159 HR. 160.4  lbs.  A great day today, out with the Agile Fox again, on the High Line Canal. We did some intervals - 0.5 miles, 0.5 miles, 1.0 miles, 0.5 miles, and 0.5 miles. Of course my pace was anywhere between 1:30 to 3:00 slower than his. Legs felt great, and had good energy levels. Need to incorporate runs like this more often, and hopefully get a bit faster.

Thursday,  August 2 -  0 Miles - Rest day.  159.2  lbs.  Nice to see 15x again!

Friday, August 3 - 0 Miles - Rest day.  159.8 lbs.

Saturday,  August 4 -  21.3 Miles, 14:26 pace, 149 HR. 161.6  lbs.  Leadville night run with Chris in preparation for the LT100 in two weeks where I'll be pacing him for the last 40 miles. That's my highest altitude run ever. The elevation was min 9,628' - max 11,111' according to my Garmin.  My legs were on fire, mostly the calves and hamstrings, and it felt like I couldn't catch my breath - even though my HR was normal.  Poor eating on Friday and Saturday led to a bit of GI distress for the run too. I think I'll do a separate blog write-up on this effort.

Sunday,  August 5 -  0 Miles - Rest day. 163.4  lbs.  Poor, poor eating and lots of beers.

Nutrition - It's pretty easy to see by my daily weigh-in numbers when nutrition is good, and when it all goes horribly wrong.  Friday and Saturday I didn't eat well at all. Lots of wheat and lots of dairy. That did me no favors for the Leadville run.  Sunday was a continuance of that poor eating, with less wheat, but even more dairy.