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Thanks for visiting my blog. This is where I document and share all of my running adventures with my friends and fellow runners. The good, the bad, and the unquestionably painful. All for your entertainment! Enjoy!

Sunday, September 29, 2013

2013 Bear 100: Happy to be a Member of the Grizzly Club!

I have had the pleasure of running a lot of amazing races in a lot of incredible locations all over the world. Meanwhile, one of the most beautiful challenges I've ever faced is right up the road from my house and I never fully realized it. The Bear 100 is a totally legit, scenic mountain race and the hardest thing I've ever done.

Bear Bling!

For me, the Bear had a warm, family feel because I knew so many of the runners in attendance. Packet pickup was like a reunion and everybody was happy and excited to get on the trail. Being among friends has a way of easing the pre-race tensions that plague most runners before a 100 mile race. Probably because it reaffirms that you're not a total idiot for signing up for a race like this. Or maybe it's the old "misery loves company" mentality. Either way, it definitely helps.

Aside from my own race, my good friend, Britta Trepp, was going to be running her first 100 mile race and I was eager to watch her progress. Britta is an amazing runner and somebody that I am slightly competitive with. Maybe more than "slightly"...But I was really excited for her nonetheless.

Pre-Race with Britta Trepp and Jim Skaggs

As a frame of reference, the Bear starts in Logan, Utah and runs north for a finish in Fish Haven, Idaho. It covers 100 miles through two mountain ranges, includes 22,000 feet of climbing, and has the runners climb to 9000+ feet several times. It's a damn tough race.

The race starts at 6:00 AM on Friday, so with the 36 hour cutoff, it finishes at 6:00 PM on Saturday. My only goal was to be finished in time for lunch.

The race begins on asphalt and we follow this road to a nearby trail head. This allows the field to thin out before we get bogged down in the conga line heading up the mountain. I wanted to go out fast so I didn't get stuck behind other runners on the way to the single track, so I hopped in behind Karl Meltzer and followed him to the trail. That seemed to do the trick and we were on the trail in no time.

This first climb is 5 miles long and we gain about 3500 feet in the ascent. I was feeling great and was able to comfortably run the first 2 miles of the climb. But as the grade intensified, I was forced to hike to the ridge line.

As we gained altitude, we entered snow covered trails. The ground was frozen but the footing was still great.

Chilly Trails

After hitting 8200', we made a sharp descent into Welches Flat before resuming our brutal climb toward Millville Pass and the Logan Peak aid station at mile 10.5.

Cresting the First Ridge

I moved through the Logan Peak aid station quickly and made the final scramble to the top of the peak. This is the largest climb of the race and I was happy to have it behind me.

After reaching the top, we bail directly off the mountain and begin a 3600' descent into Leatham Hollow.

Where I Came From

The descent into Leatham Hollow was gorgeous and once I got below the snow line, it actually warmed up and became a very comfortable run. By this time, I was mostly solo as the field had thinned out a lot. I settled in and enjoyed the race.

Sun Beating on the Snow Capped Mountains

Some Sweet Single Track 

Leatham Hollow

The Leatham Hollow Aid Station at mile 19.6 would be my first chance to see my crew. My run was going really well so I planned for a very brief stop. As usual for my 100 mile races, Jo would have a hydration pack waiting for me when I arrived and it would be fully stocked with everything I would need for the next leg of the run. All I needed to do is drop my depleted hydration pack, pick up a fresh replacement and head down the trail.

Arrived

Well Stocked! Thanks Hammer Nutrition!

I swapped packs, got a quick kiss and headed on my way toward Richards Hollow.

Back on the Trail!

There was an aid station at Richards Hollow, which was only 3 miles away, so when I reached it, I just checked in and out without stopping and proceeded up the 2600' climb to Richards Peak. The climb was less dramatic than the first and was easy on my legs.

I quickly crested Richards Summit and made a quick and sharp descent into the Cowley Canyon aid station at Mile 30.

 Single Track in Cowley Canyon

Cowley!

Feeling Good at Mile 30


When I arrived at the aid station, Jo and I went through our rituals. She swapped packs with me, asked about how I was feeling and gave me a status update on the race. This is when I learned that Britta was not too far behind me. This news didn't really surprise me because she's a strong runner, but I expected a more casual pace for her first 100 miler. I was happy to hear she was doing well.

I moved out of the aid station quickly and made the steep ascent up Rick's Summit. This climb was a bit of a grinder for me but it was shorter than some of the earlier climbs. I was feeling good and making a strong climb.

I crested the top of Rick's and made the fast 2000' descent into the canyon below. I was moving quickly but I was also pausing alongside other runners so we could chat during the descent. I made leisurely conversation with 6 different runners along the way and it turns out that we all knew each other somehow.

The ultra world is small...

Right Hand Fork

I came cruising into the aid station at Right Hand Fork, still chatting with another runner. I was still in great shape and planned to make this a quick stop. When Jo told me that Britta was still running strong and looking good, I began to ponder the possibility that she might just beat me. I shuddered a bit because I know she would never let me hear the end of it.

I left the aid station quickly...

Britta Right Behind Me, Looking Great and Feeling Strong

I made the short 1000' climb up to Mudd Flat Summit and quickly ran down to the Temple Fork aid station at mile 45. We were sustaining a lower elevation during these miles so the weather was better, the oxygen was more plentiful and I was able to run much stronger.

Snowy Single Track

Coming into Temple Fork

Fall Colors

Coming into Temple Fork Aid Station


Coming out of Temple Fork, I had a 2600' climb over the next 5 miles. I knuckled down and started the steep ascent.

I was warned about this climb before the race so in a very rare move, I opted to use my Black Diamond Z-Poles for this ascent. This is something that may have saved my race.

Sporting the Poles


The climb out of Temple Fork was the worst part of the race. The trail was covered in thick gooey mud and getting any speed or decent footing was nearly impossible. I was forced to drive my poles into the muck and pull myself up the steep climb.

This amounted to FIVE miles of pulling myself up a 2600' incline. My upper body was burning from having to do the work that my legs are trained for.

It was not a good time.

After fighting my way to the pass, I made a quick descent into the Tony Grove aid station at mile 52.

I was wiped out!

Tony Grove

Running into Tony Grove

Tony Grove was a sea of people and I was greeted by a lot of friends that had come to watch the race. It was all very heartwarming, but my exhausted condition didn't allow me to enjoy it as much as I would have liked.

It was bitter cold at the aid station so I didn't want to linger. I swapped packs, exchanged updates with my crew and headed out.

Leaving Tony Grove

This next 10 mile section called for a 900' climb, followed by a 2300' descent. The sun was beginning to set and the temps were dropping rapidly. I kept moving quickly. More to stay warm than to save time in the race.

Staggering into Franklin Basin Aid Station...Mile 61

At Franklin Basin, I got to pick up my pacer and very good friend, Rob Goekermann. Rob and I have a long history together and I was happy to have him join me.

It was at this aid station that I learned that Britta was really beginning to gain on me. I would like to tell you that I wasn't worried, but that would be a lie. I was terrified.

Me and Rob Heading into the Cold, Dark Mountains

I wouldn't see Jo again for about 14 miles because there was no crew access before then. This isn't really a problem, but I like to break my race up into small, manageable bites and those bites are usually associated with when I get to see my crew. This bite was going to be hard to swallow. Especially knowing how cold and miserable those miles were going to be.

Immediately after leaving the aid station, we're faced with a 1700' climb over 4 miles. I was glad to finally have some company but by this point in the race, I wasn't really in a chatty mood. Poor Rob was on his own if he was seeking entertainment.

We ran, jogged, shuffled and hiked our way into the Beaver Lodge aid station at mile 75.

During this trek, my headlamp died. I positioned Rob behind me so he could shine his light over my shoulder. We stumbled the rest of the way into the Beaver Lodge aid station like two drunk idiots as we kicked rocks and bounced off trees.

I will remember that time, fondly.

WARNING: If you ever plan to run this race, beware of Beaver Lodge! The is an actual structure. With heat and furniture! After 75 miles of running through the frigid mountains, it's exactly the type of place that will suck you in and never let you out. It's best to stay outside while your crew tends to business inside.

WAY Too Cozy for an Aid Station

While at Beaver Lodge, I saw a lot of things. I saw friends that had dropped from the race, I saw plenty of other people that were contemplating dropping from the race....

And I saw Britta!

Britta Catches Me!

I've been looking over my shoulder for this girl for 75 miles and here she is. Her spontaneous arrival eradicated any thoughts I had about sticking around to warm up. I took a few minutes to chat and see how she was doing, then I quietly slipped into the cold, dark night.

After leaving Beaver Lodge, we had a very brief descent then we began a brutal climb toward Beaver Creek Summit. This climb was only 1600' and seemed manageable enough. But it wasn't.

After a 1300' climb, we were navigating along a totally exposed ridge as the wind blasted us. It was 20 degrees without the wind and I can only imagine what the wind chill must have been. The trail meandered for miles, taking us up, down and then turned back on itself. It just felt like we were lost on the tundra with no hope for salvation. Not a fan!

We eventually made the final push up a steep ascent and dropped down into the Beaver Creek aid station where Jo was waiting.

I swapped packs on the move and started to head out. Rob had to change batteries in his headlamp and I told him to catch up when he was done. I had stuff to do!

I was being hunted and needed to put space between me and my pursuer. I was gone!

Miles 85-92 were a total slug fest. Extreme exhaustion had set in and I was begging for this to be over. I was so cold, I couldn't feel my extremities and all I wanted was a warm bed.

Rob could sense my condition and tried to entertain me. I was well beyond the ability to be "cheered up". Couldn't he see I was DYING?! Singing to me won't reverse that!

We bumbled into the aid station at mile 92. More friends were scattered around in various states of decomposition. I tried to engage them in discussion but they were too far gone.

I drank half a cup of Coke for a bit of caffeine, glanced at the headlights behind me, and headed toward the finish line, once again, leaving Rob.

He didn't seem to realize I was being chased!

After leaving the aid station, we had ONE final climb. People kept saying, "It's really steep, but short".

What the hell does THAT mean?! Short compared to the 7 mile climbs we've been doing for the last 95 miles? Nobody could be specific, but they all agreed it was steep.

Not only was it steep, it's the tallest point on the course. Nobody mentioned that though.

We tackled that ascent like two turtles stampeding through peanut butter. This was the only ascent that required me to stop and catch my breath. My calves were on fire, my body was rebelling and my mind was quietly slipping away from me.

The only thing that kept me focused were the headlamps behind me.

After eventually reaching the summit, which is comically named the "Gates of Paradise", we began a 6 mile descent toward the finish.

The downhill was steep, rock laden, rutted and muddy. Not exactly ideal for getting some speed, especially when you're physically destroyed. My knees were in so much pain that I was reduced to a careful crawl down the steep grade.

After the most miserable descent of my entire life, we were near Fish Haven and could see the lights just below us. The sun was beginning to rise and I was able to see without my headlamp. We hurried toward town, assuming the finish line was within a few hundred yards.

It wasn't.

The trail serpentined forever, compounding my frustration. We eventually hit a paved road and we ran, walked, stumbled our way into town.

Another runner caught up to us as I was walking and insisted we run the rest of the way. I agreed and we pushed out the most painful 10 minute miles of my life.

Coming to the Finish

I crossed in 25:34 and was just elated to be done. 

While sitting in the grass, trying to ease my pain, Britta came around the corner and made her triumphant finish. She was 10 minutes behind me.

Her First 100 and She Finishes Looking Like a Supermodel! 

In all seriousness, I really think I stayed focused because I was being pushed by Britta. She's such a talented runner and I knew she had the ability to beat me and I also knew that she would never let me forget it.

I also know her pacer was using me as a carrot to prod her along and keep her moving quickly.

We both benefited from each other and we both had good finish times for this nasty 100 miler.

Thanks Britta!

Before running the Bear, I had always heard incredible things about the race. I had never heard a bad word about any aspect of this event and I was deeply curious about the mystique that this race carries.

Now I understand. The Bear really is an amazing race. The word "epic" is too frequently used, but I really believe its perfectly applicable when referring to the Bear 100. This race delivers on every level and I was thoroughly impressed. It's hard, scenic, well managed and provides a glimpse of every imaginable trail condition in the western United States.

Yeah...EPIC is appropriate.

I'm still on a bit of a high since finishing and my mind continues to wander back onto those trails. Because of this, I know I'll be back. And that makes me happy.

The year is winding down, but Jo and I have a few more exciting adventures on tap. Thanks for taking the time to read my rambling report. We hope to see you on the trails very soon!

Monday, September 23, 2013

Xterra National Trail Championships: Spoiler Alert...I Didn't Win.

I had never run an Xterra event, but the National Trail Championships seemed intriguing and I knew there would be a lot of really speedy runners in the race. This race fit very well in my schedule and was local, so it seemed obvious what needed to be done. 

This is also an ideal race for Jo to run. Due to my own demands for a crew and race manager, Jo doesn't get to race as often as we would both like. 

The race worked well with my schedule because I'm working on a taper (sorta) leading up to the Bear 100, which is held 5 days after Xterra. I started September with a 50k, then digressed the following weekend to a trail marathon, then dropped even further the following weekend to a trail half marathon, and ended my Pre-Bear racing with Xterra, which is also a trail half marathon.

September had 5 weekends, which naturally translates to 5 races. 

My September has been going well and my results have been better than expected, considering my plans to rest for the Bear. I went into this race with every intention of going easy so I can keep my legs rested for my upcoming 100 miler. 

Here's the problem with all that...When I'm running well and feeling good, I can only appreciate it when I'm running hard. So, while my mouth was telling everybody that I planned to run slow, my legs and brain were conspiring to make a liar out of me. 

Xterra Finishers Bling

Checking out the Venue Before the Race

5 Time Xterra Champion, Max King

Max King has dominated this race for the last five years and was back to defend his title. Unfortunately for Max, he sprained his ankle shortly before the race and had been working on an abbreviated recovery so he could come to Ogden and take his 6th consecutive championship.

I spoke to Max before the race regarding his injury. He didn't feel hopeful and explained to me that he would be wearing a brace on his ankle during the race. I was curious to see how this was going to play out.

Backdrop for the Race in Fall Colors

The weather was strange and I didn't know how to dress for the race. It was much warmer than I had expected, but overcast. Storm clouds were building to the south, but the sky was clearing to the north. The weather was going to be a crap shoot, so I played it safe by dressing light. I can better manage being wet and cold than I can manage being hot and loaded down with layers.

The race started right on time, and we began by running a parade lap through the ski area parking lot so the field could thin out before heading to the trail. Once we left the parking lot, we hit a gravel road that took us right up the slopes.

It took me a minute to realize that I had run this gravel road before, but it finally sunk in, I backed off my pace because I happened to know that it was very long, and that it got much steeper toward the top. Forget the parking lot! This hill was doing a great job of thinning us out.

Once off the road, we hit some sweet single track. A lot of runners in front of me were already beginning to fade because they hadn't run the first hill correctly and I was slowly gaining spots.

A Bit of Sweet Single Track!

After the first aid station, it began to rain, which I was hopeful for because I run well in those conditions (and many others don't). Unfortunately, it proved to be a short lived event and the sun made its presence known.

By mile two, I was shirtless and sweating buckets. Not at all the best weather conditions for me.

Ski Lifts! A Staple in Utah Mountain Running!

After a few miles, we were running along the bench of the ski area and we passed just above the start/finish line that was nestled near the ski lodge just below our trail.

Heading up THERE!

We made a descent into the valley on trails that I had a lot of experience on. I knew the running would be fast for a while and I sped up to take advantage of it.

Fast Trail

Gradual Ascent, but Still Fast

As we began to make our ascent toward Sardine Peak, I started to gain a few more spots. I felt good on the climb and ran every step of it.

For the briefest of moments, I caught a fleeting glimpse of Max King on the trail above me. I've raced with Max a lot and have learned that if I have anything to say to him, I need to do it BEFORE the race because it'll be my only chance to see him. This was a first for me.

In my fantasy world, it plays out like this...

Max King looks down and sees me. Our eyes meet. I instantly register the panic that suddenly surges through him at the realization that I'm on his heels. Trying to escape his pursuer, he realizes it's futile and curls up on the side of the trail as I go flying by. Max murmurs something about there being no shame in being beaten by me. Beautiful women in bikinis are lined up, waiting for me at the finish line with cold beer.

In real life, I never saw him again, but that little race fantasy kept my mind occupied for the rest of the race, so it's all good.

Back to reality...After finishing the ascent and enjoying the beautiful views, I started down the series of switchbacks that would take me back toward the finish. I knew exactly how to run this section of trail and I hammered my way down the mountain. I usually let gravity do most of the work on downhills, and I use them as an opportunity to settle my heart rate and rest my legs. But today, I was running them at full speed.

The View From Sardine


I was feeling pretty spent over the final couple of miles toward the finish but was running well. I had no idea what position I held and I wasn't really worried about it, but I would be lying if I said I wasn't at least mildly interested in an age group podium finish.

Flat Smooth Single Track Just Before the Finish

I could hear the announcer calling out finishers, and pretty soon, I could hear the crowd cheering for runners. I shot out of the woods, up a short hill and made my descent to the finish.

1:44:42...Not Bad for a Hilly Half

I was met at the finish line by friends and quickly had a cold beer in my hand to celebrate the end of my short trail races for the season.


After a bit of relaxing and socializing, Jo made her way to the finish line as well. She had almost the exact same finish time that she had posted the previous weekend, on a much easier trail system. She was happy and I was proud of her!

Great Work Jo!

Jo and I exchanged notes on the race and I was eager to hear what she thought. She hasn't run much of the trail network up there, so a lot of this was new territory for her. She really enjoyed the trails and had a great time running the race. I love it when she has fun and finishes feeling good.

Not a Bad Venue!

It turns out I finished 4th in my age group, just missing the podium and breaking a streak. These Xterra events attract a lot of very talented, short distance runners, so I wasn't surprised to finish like I did. My strength isn't found in the half marathon distance but I sure enjoy running it.

On fueling, I was excited to try the new Hammer Nutrition Peanut Butter Gel. I had been hoping this flavor would be released someday, and now it's here. It was delicious and effective. I didn't stop at any of the aid stations and had preloaded in advance with Endurolyte Fizz. Not having to slow for aid during these short races makes a huge difference in your finish time.

My race calendar is almost empty for 2013! I have only 5 races left for the year, but 4 of them are 100 milers and the other is a trail marathon. So, there aren't many events, but there's still a lot of work to do.

Jo and I will be heading to Logan, Utah this weekend for the Bear 100. I feel well trained and well rested. I think we'll have a great time running the mountains up there and I'm hopeful for a solid finish.

Thanks for taking the time to read along. I hope to see many of you out on the trails very soon!

Sunday, September 15, 2013

2013 Park City Trail Series: 3 Out Of 4 Ain't Bad




Coming into the 2013 race season, I vowed to run more "short distance" trail races. The intention of this decree was to provide myself with a greater number of relatively easy events so I would be forced to rest my legs more, run easier, and just enjoy being on the trail without the pressure to compete.

This plan would have worked if those short races had replaced long races, but I still registered for 20 ultras and 5 marathons. My race schedule STILL totals 1435.3 miles of racing, which is a net increase over 2012.

Oh well...it was a well meaning idea.

The Park City Trail series seemed to be a perfect fit for my 2013 plans. The series is put on by R-U-N Events and encompasses 4 races through the summer, including a 5k, 10k, 15k and culminates with a sporty half marathon. All races start and finish at the same spot and provide a good mix of jeep trail, double track and single track. And Park City is a pretty cool running venue!

The 5K: June 15, 2013

I was kind of excited to run the 5k because I had never run a trail 5k before. I was also a little disgusted at the idea because I hate running that distance. Mostly because I'm a terrible 5k runner. I honestly have no idea how these races are supposed to run.

Here's a recap of my typical 5k experience:

Start-1/2 mile- Run as fast as possible. I can WIN!
1/2 mile-1mile- Feel like puking. Must. Slow. Down.
1 mile- 2 miles- This course must be long because I should be done by now.
2 miles- Finish- I would rather run a 100 miler than ever do another 5k.

Me and Jo Before the Race

Start Line

It was a beautiful and cloudless day in Park City. The race started right on time and we were off at a maddening pace. The race begins, and mostly remains on a gravel road that guides us up a gradual, but obvious incline before winding around in a meandering fashion.

Runners on the Course

The previous weekend, I had run a 40 mile night race in southern Arizona and was fighting for a win in that race. All my wasted energy resulted in a 2nd place finish, and now, I could feel those hard miles on my legs. Even the slightest inclines felt like mountainous climbs and my lungs were burning and threatening to expel themselves right onto the trail.

I HATE THIS DISTANCE! But it is a pretty day...

There was a moment when we hit a lovely piece of single track and I cracked a smile, thinking I would bury these guys on a bit of technical trail. After about 40 feet, we were back on another road. This is when I hit a mental low point. I considered flinging my hyperventilating body into the sagebrush so I curl up and cry in private. I fought that urge and pressed on. Slower and a bit more dejected, but I was still pushing forward.

After an eternity, I heard the finish line, and after another minute, I could see it. As with most races, the thought of finishing pushed me quickly toward the finish.

I crossed, grabbed a beer, and instantly felt better.

My Bride Finishing Her Race!

Exchanging 5k War Stories with Ben Haushulz. Tough Day...

In a nutshell, my first trail 5k was somewhat successful. I still don't know my finishing time, nor do I care, but I took 3rd in my age group, so I consider that to be a decent outcome for this rookie.

THE 10K: July 6, 2013

This would be my 1st trail 10k ever. In the world of short distance running, the 10k is as rare as the 100k in the world of ultra running. I have no idea why these two distances get ignored, but it's a damn shame because I think we need more middle distance options. 

Pre-Race

The weather was much different than what we were treated to for the 5k. It was drizzling, cool and lightening in the distance resulted in a postponed start time.

Jo opted out of this race because she had been vomiting all morning. I tried to convince her that puking was part of the sport and a streak of vomit on your running clothes should be worn like a badge of honor. She wasn't buying it and decided to wait at the finish line instead.

Waiting to Start

Off For Round 2 In Park City!

I had just run the Black Hills 100 the previous weekend and nailed an 8th place finish. My legs were a little banged up, but I was determined to run hard and finish well.

I picked out a fast runner that I could see way up ahead and settled into a pace to catch him. Once I was finally on his heels, I settled in behind him and stayed glued to him. He seemed annoyed, but I really didn't care. I needed someone to pull me along for a few miles, and unfortunately for him, I decided he would be the guy.

The 10k course incorporated a lot more single track. It was mostly smooth and fast, packed with short switchbacks that mountain bikers seem to love so much.

After a couple of miles of annoying the guy in front of me, I slipped by him at mile 5 and let my legs go for the last push. It felt fast, but after a 100 miler, everything feels fast.

Crossing the Finish Line!

Hanging out With Brandon Long, Watching the other Finishers

For a first attempt at a trail 10k, I was pretty pleased. I had a finish time of 48:10:00 and came in 2nd in my age group. I'll take that all day long!

The 15K: Sorry...I went to Wyoming to run the El Vaquero Loco 50k instead. But I heard the 15k was a great event! 

The Half Marathon: September 14, 2013

The day started out cold and rain was threatening from just over the highest ridge lines to the west. I had just come off a terrible trail marathon the week before and wasn't feeling well. Furthermore, I had been stung on my Achilles by a wasp the day before! I had every reason to stay home and whine like a little girl, but I loaded up and returned to the spot that had become so familiar. 

Waiting to Get Started

I had low expectations, so I went out at a pretty pedestrian pace...or what felt like a pretty pedestrian pace. I focused on keeping my heart rate low (by feel, I don't wear a stupid monitor. I know when my heart is pounding too fast). I was passing a lot of people in the first mile and then the field seemed to settle in.

I hit the 5k mark in about 22 minutes and was feeling good. Too good actually. I suspected the mile markers were inaccurate and pressed on.

Runners Behind Me

Foggy, Cold, but I was Sweating Buckets

This course was a pretty even mix of jeep trail and single track. There were a few short climbs, a lot of rolling hills and a couple of tricky downhill sections.

These conditions were perfect for me and my running style.

A Bit of Single Track

Jo Taking Time to Take a Selfie During Her Race!(Likely having more fun than me)

The first 7 or 8 miles went well and I was holding my pace, passing the occasional runner and keeping my heart rate settled. I was focused on targeting runners and then slowly picking them off as they faded.

It Took a Mile to Finally Catch and Pass this Guy

By mile 10, I decided this was now a real race. I had no idea where I was in the field, but I felt like I had a chance to be in the top 10.

I was catching a glimpse of two other runners up ahead of me and I set off to catch them.

The first runner was a young kid and he was clearly fading. But I didn't have a lot of time left, so I pushed hard to catch him. When I got on his heels, I hung back and paced him for a few minutes so my heart rate would settle a bit. I had this guy and I knew it. On a short stretch of wide trail, I announced my intention and shot by him. He tried to hang for a few minutes but eventually faded fast and I never saw him again.

Onto the next runner...

This guy was a bit older. I convinced myself that he was in my age group and I needed to pass him. The problem was, he wasn't fading. At all. I found this annoying.

I pushed HARD to catch up to him and eventually locked onto him, following him WAY too close for either of us to be comfortable. My plan was to stay so close he could FEEL me breathing on him. My hope was for him to concede the spot so I didn't have to race him for it. He didn't even react to my presence. I found this annoying too.

I hung there. Refusing to budge or to back off even an inch. I was hoping he was growing more and more uncomfortable. He wasn't.

I was worried that he was laying back and if I passed him, we would have a 2 mile fight to the finish. I didn't want that. He was running at a comfortable, yet fast pace, so I rode it out, conserving energy.

With less than a mile to go, we hit a jeep road and I pulled alongside him, letting him know I was exhausted and didn't have the energy to stay in front of him. Then I immediately pulled in front of him and unleashed my legs.

He followed. I mentally begged him to stop. He still followed. After about two minutes, he was broken and began to fade quickly. I let my legs slow, but kept a watchful eye to the rear for my pursuer to develop a second wind. It never came.

I kept that pace all the way to the finish and crossed the line exhausted.

1:45:08, 5th place and I won my age group!

Meghan Hicks, smiling after her great finish!

The Awesome Johanna Stangland Coming in!

My Beautiful Bride Wrapping up Her Half Marathon!

It did not escape me that my performance got better as the race distances got longer. I was 3rd in my age group for the 5k, 2nd for the 10k and I won the Half Marathon. It doesn't come as a surprise that I'm not cut out for these shorter distances and I find my strength in running long. The longer, the better!

Maybe I'll lobby the RD to add a 50k to the series!

Half Marathon Swag!

Jo and I really enjoyed all the events in the race series. There are a lot of very speedy runners in attendance, but the field is definitely peppered with runners of all levels. The RD is very generous with post race raffle prizes and awards and I don't think anybody goes away empty handed. The courses are well marked, the volunteers are awesome and the atmosphere is festive. For the money, it's probably the best collection of races in northern Utah.

If my race calendar allows for it, I would like to return next year and compete in all four events. We'll just have to see how things play out for 2014. As of now, next year seems like it may be my swan song for ultra running. I'm getting too old for all this stuff.

Jo and I have another half marathon next weekend, then I plan to have an aggressive, yet short taper leading up the Bear 100. I'm feeling good and am expecting great things over the coming weeks.

Once again, thanks for taking the time read my race report!

Happy Trails!