Friday, October 3, 2014

2014 Mt. Taylor 50k Race Report

After only racing 2 official ultra marathons, both of which are on the same course, I will still contest that the Mt. Taylor 50k is one of the greatest races in the state of New Mexico.  This race in particular holds a sweet place in my heart as it was the first race I ran after coming back from my stress fractures this past spring.  I signed up for the race late in the summer, and started adding some actual hill climbing into my low mileage comeback routine.  I managed to get in around 50 miles a week, which included one mountain run up and down Pino in the Sandia mountains.  I figured that was enough compared to my last attempt at Mt. Taylor which entailed zero mountain runs.  Both scenarios produced two different outcomes.

This year our posse consisted of Chris Peverada, Aaron Padilla and myself.  Pev and I drove out to Grants Friday afternoon and hung around the popular venues that Grants has to offer... the hotel room.  Once Pev decided to get a new haircut, we took the long trek across the street to the Red Lion Hotel; otherwise known as the host hotel, for some dinner and to gather our racing packet.  After a delightful spaghetti dinner, Ken Gordon (the race director) made some announcements about the course and the two special guest: Craig Curly and Gordon Ainsleigh.  Craig is someone whom I knew from the road racing circuit and he owns a 2:15 marathon pr from Twin Cities.  And Gordon Ainsleigh is an Ultra Running pioneer and legend!  Here's his wikipedia page so I don't screw anything up:  After a nice evening of chatting with other runners, we hiked back to our hotel and bunkered down for the night and were back up at 4:00am ready to go.  Like a blink of an eye.

Aaron drove us up to the start in his pick-up, since my Civic wouldn't be the wisest decision.  We parked, checked-in, gathered around and were off at 6:30am up the mountain!

Just before the Start

Only after a few hundred meters there was a pack of 5 guys in front of me lead by Pev and Craig.  I decided to stay comfortable in 6th and knew we had a lot of running to do before anything was actually secure.  After a few miles, the twilight from the sun was finally pronounced and you could start seeing the beauty of Mt. Taylor in the fall.  Hints of orange and yellow leaves were all around, and the wretched first climb up to the La Mosca lookout were waiting for us.  It was great running this event for the second time, since everything was much more recognizable.  It was also a bit daunting to know what lay ahead around each bend or after each descent.

Heading up La Mosca Lookout

Once I found a good rhythm, and the first major climb was over, I started to feel pretty good.  I was a little worried about my right leg, and I hoped nothing serious would happen to it while running for 31 miles.  Luckily for me, my leg felt fine the entire time, and still feel fine while I write this blog.  

After running with a few guys who either caught me, or I caught up to, things started to settle in for everyone.  I met a dude from Gallup, New Mexico - Andy.  I caught him going up La Mosca, then he dropped me, then I caught him again and kept moving along.  Another guy by the name of Josh also caught me just before the Spud Patch aid station.  We cruised in together and chatted for a bit trying to figure out if we could catch Pev and Craig.  At this point Josh and I were in 3rd and 4th place.  It would be a long path ahead before the next aid station.

Josh and I coming into Spud Patch

The next aid station was at Rock Tank Shelter, and that would mark mile 16 or so.  After running along with Josh for a few miles, I slowly separated myself from him and made it to Rock Tank alone.  I was told the leaders are nearly 10 minutes up, and of course we still had 16 more miles and two huge climbs.  I had a pretty good feeling I would not catch them, but I wanted to maintain my top 5 position so I refilled my water and bolted out of there.  I was starting to feel the pounding of 16 miles, and this next half was going to be even harder.

Next stop would be at Gooseberry Aid station at mile 21.  Ken Gordon and his son were there cheering me in.  Ken, being the experienced ultrarunner advised me to some S! Caps since I probably needed some electrolytes and my coke intake wasn't enough.  I managed to finish my water bottle before each aid station, and took in a gel every hour.  I made sure to drink enough, and treated myself to a coke at each stop.  Granted, that coke was only about 6 ounces, I still considered it a treat.  But I took down an S! Cap and took one more for the road/atop the mountain.  Ken informed me that Craig was 10 minutes up on Pev and Pev was about 10 minutes up on me.  I figured I would lose more ground climbing the summit, and would try to keep 3rd place secure.

Well, after climbing for quite-a-ways, I was being stalked by 4th place.  I was caught before I reached the summit and was now in 4th place.  I guess all that climbing up Pino is nothing compared to climbing Mt. Taylor.  I have some major work to do if I ever want to compete in more ultras, especially any 100 milers.  But anyways, I felt a lot better than the first year running this, and was determined to stay in the top 5.

Atop Mt. Taylor 11,301' above sea level.

Well, the rest of the race was a trek and I managed to keep my 4th place position to nearly the last 10 meters.  After climbing the summit my quads were wrecked!  I thought I could easily roll down those hills into Water Canyon and catch 3rd place.  But this year was completely different.  I hadn't run any workouts, and had zero strength in my quads.  Probably lack of tempo runs, and some speed workouts.  So, it was a struggle going down after Mt. Taylor, and I couldn't close the gap on 3rd place.  The last climb out of Water Canyon was also a tough one.  This last climb resulted in much self profanity.  I really wanted to be done at this point.  One last shot of Coke at the Caldera Rim Aid Station and I was off.  This last section is basically a 2 mile straight downhill to the finish.  It's brutal and not pleasant on the quads.  I was finally caught with about 1 mile to go, and put in a little surge on Michael.  He still rallied and suck with me to the final 400 meters and started kicking pretty hard.  I'm use to finishing hard, but this seemed a little strange being an ultra marathon where the winners usually stroll in without anything left in them.  At this point I figured I better not get out kicked, so I decided to hold him off and finish in 4th.  

The finish line party is my favorite get-together of all races I've run in New Mexico.  We had 2 kegs of Marble beer, burgers and hot dogs on the grill, and plenty of green chile and soda for all to enjoy.  Everyone is in good spirits and we all hobble around to chat and share stories of our 50k adventure.  Craig won the event in 4:19, and Pev was 2nd in 4:57.  I ran 5:08 and Aaron finished his first ever Ultra marathon in 5:55.  It was a great day with tons of support from family and friends!  If I could, I would do this race every year.  We shall see what next year has to offer as far as qualifying for the Olympic Trials in the marathon.  Thanks again to Ken and all the support on the mountain, from aid station crews to photographers, to rescue workers and volunteers!

Chris Peverada finishing strong

Jesse(4th), Pev(2nd), Craig(1st), Michael(5th), Mike(3rd)


Aaron finishing strong

More Cowbell and more beer!
Time off our feet...


Sunday, August 24, 2014

Getting over the mental anguish of the stress fracture - another week in the books

Well, I survived another week of decent running and a decent amount of numbness in my right tibia from those nasty stress fractures.  Once thing that I keep reminding myself is that my bone is completely healed and that I am doing the right thing by running a little on it.  This was the advice many people have given me over the summer; that there'll be some "weird" pain where the stress fracture use to be.  And like I've said before, that weird pain was also a thick and fat feeling that I didn't like having.  It was just a reminder that; "hey, I'm going to bug you and hopefully break you mentally before I actually break physically.".  That was not fun, but I still kept at it, and hopefully I'm right.

So, after some light trotting around during the week, a fun trip to Jemez Springs (elevation: 7900'), and 2 little mountain excursions; I would say I had a decent week of running, and I use the word running loosely.  I can honestly say that running up the Pino trail was quite difficult for me.  With the company of Chris and Tony, I made it up to the Crest Trail from the Spain Parking Lot in one hour and fifteen minutes, then blazed down for a total time of two hours and ten minutes.  I've never been up to the crest from that trail, and it was quite amazing and wet.  I would highly recommend that trail and hopefully in the future we will venture over to South Peak and back.  As you can tell, I really have the trail running bug and have my sights on Mt. Taylor 50k at the end of September.  After that, I will head back to the roads and attempt to qualify for the 2016 Olympic Trials in the marathon, but before that I still want to get scuffed up in the mountains.

Here are some pictures from today's run up Embudito Trail.

Monday, August 18, 2014

Post Stress Fracture Running, Rehab, & Trail Running

Well, after a bitter summer of recovering and rehabbing my 3 stress fractures in my right tibia, I am now running confidently again.  This past week I spent the majority of my time lightly pounding on the softer dirt path of the North UNM Golf Course loop.  Once I had some free time to venture towards the foothills on the weekend, I decided to run up the Pino trail.  On Saturday I only managed to make it 45 minutes away from the Michael Emery parking lot, and Sunday morning I was able to run 1 hour out.  I have never been that far up the Pino trail, and from what I observed - it was pretty amazing.  Very lush and beautiful.  This weekend I plan on making up to the Crest and possibly even further...  Time will only tell, since I've been limited to "time" running during my rehab segment.

On another crazy and thought provoking topic; I've recently signed up for the Mt. Taylor 50k, which will take place on September 27th.  It seems a little crazy to run an Ultramarathon after coming back from a stress fracture, but I figured if I can make the La Luz trail run my longest run post stress fracture, then I should be fine...  Again, time will only tell, just so long as I don't do anything too stupid.

More Trail running post to come, and with pictures too!

Sunday, March 9, 2014

9 weeks until the Boston Marathon - Week in Review

With only a mere 10 weeks until the most anticipated marathon of the year, I am starting to feel excited and ready.  I've been wanting to run the Boston Marathon since I first attempted this crazy distance back in the fall of 2009 - Twin Cities Marathon.  After that race, I was looking for another marathon to improve on, and for some idiotic reason, I picked the Nashville Marathon in the Spring, as opposed to the Boston Marathon.  Luckily for me, I had a great 2010 spring season and set some amazing PR's on the track.  But, I should've entered in the foot race that starts in Hopkinton.

The Famous Boston Marathon Course
Last year I was entered in the Boston Marathon, but had the misfortune of catching pneumonia and getting injured.  If all goes well, I will be ecstatic to start and cross the Boston Marathon Finish line in one piece.  I will also be jumping out of my racing flats if I finish the race with a PR.  The number one goal is to run the Olympic Marathon Trials Standard of 2:18:00 or faster.  The second goal would be to PR, which is very likely since training is going well; but as all who know what it's like training for and racing a marathon, it is just as unlikely to not run a PR.

This week was a great week, when compared to last week.  I had a whooping 52 miles the previous week, since I was sick and took 2 days off, and came back slowly.  So, I finally feel like a "real" runner and completed a decent mileage week while racing in Boulder, CO for the USA Cross Country Championships.  I had one "speed" session on Wednesday, which wasn't that fast.  I'm not completely sure why I ran so slow, but I got the volume in - 8x1000m with 200m recovery jog.  I only averaged 3:09 (which probably was the slowest I've ever run that workout in), but I might've felt slow because it was so early in the morning.  I started warming up at 4:45am, and did some light drills and started the first interval at around 5:15am.  It was pretty dark at Highland High School, but the street lights and permaglo helped a little bit.  I think I haven't started a workout that early in awhile, so it was a little shock for me.  After a few more weeks, I'll feel more comfortable running that early again.  Besides, it's getting lighter, earlier as well...

So training and racing looked a little like this:

Mon - pm. 8 miles
Tue - am. 4 miles / pm. 12 miles
Wed - am. 2 mile warm-up 8x1000m (3:11, 3:08, 3:09, 3:08,
Thur - pm. Strength training + 8 miles
Fri - am. 6 miles
Sat -
Sun -

43 Days until the Boston Marathon

With another Sunday long run done with, and a few more miles under the belt, I'm starting to feel the grind and exhaustion of the past 18 weeks.  After looking back on those 18 weeks, I've raced 2 half marathons, 2 cross country races, one road 5k and loaded a few yoga sessions into the mix.  It's not a lot of racing, but with a busy schedule, it sure seems like a lot.  It also has been a mental challenge to come so close in the half marathon Olympic Trials standard (Houston race of 1:05:38 to the qualifying time of 1:05:00), and keep grinding away towards the marathon standard, but I know it's going to pay off in Boston.

The Boston Marathon is still far enough away, that I am not totally pumped about it, or amped, but at the same time, I can't wait to race it.  I've been waiting 5 years to run this marathon, and I hope it's everything I dream of.  And at this point, the training has been relatively strong.  In the grand scheme of 18 weeks; I've had a tad bit more miles than my build up to the US Marathon Champs, and a few better races leading up to Boston.  Last week I ran a half marathon in Phoenix, Arizona, that didn't go as well as I would've like, but I am now satisfied with the performance.  A real quick run down - I was 2nd place in 1:07:52, and the conditions were rainy and windy.  It's not an excuse to run that time, but considering a few other factors, I am okay with it.  If anything, it has really fueled the fire in my training, which is why this past week has been one of my better weeks of training in a long time.

Moving forward, I will continue to keep my mileage at the magical HUNDO (100 miles), and really stay diligent about getting up early before work to maintain that mileage.  Since it's been lighter, later in the days, I've now moved my workout session to the afternoons.  Things are looking good, and I can't wait to get to Boston!

Last Week: 2/24 - 3/2

Mon - pm. 10 miles
Tue - Off
Wed - pm. 4x1 mile w/4min rec. (5:05, 5:06, 5:01, 4:58). 10 total
Thur - am. 6 miles / pm. 10 miles
Fri - am. 6 miles pm. Drove to Phoenix
Sat - am. Phoenix Half Marathon 2nd place - 1:07:52. 18 miles total
Sun - am. 8 miles / pm. Drove Home

Total: 68 miles

This Week: 3/3 - 3/9

Mon - pm. 10 miles
Tue - am. 6 miles / pm. 10 miles
Wed - am. 4 miles / pm. 2 mile wu 4x2 miles w/2min rec. [5:21, 5:07] [5:20, 5:34] [5:19, 5:10] [5:28, 5:26] Windy going north on the bike path 2 miles cd. 12 miles total
Thur - am. 6 miles / pm. 10 miles
Fri - am. 4 miles / pm. 8 miles
Sat - am. 11 miles / pm. 6 miles w/strides
Sun - am. 22 miles w/5x1 mile w/1min rec. [5:12, 5:11, 5:08, 5:15, 5:06]

Total: 109 miles

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

8 weeks until the Boston Marathon

After a great adventure to Boulder, Colorado for the USA Cross Country Championships, my weekly training has slowly come around.  It's still not anywhere where it should be, but it's improving from last week's sickness.

The race itself went a little better than I thought.  I finished 26th in a decent field, but I know I could do better if I was more motivated.  I have too many excuses at the moment, and all I really need to do is put my head down and continue to pound the pavement!  This week was okay, as far as training goes, so I'm going to get back on track and put all distractions aside.  The Boston Marathon is only 8 weeks away, which means, it's just around the corner.  I'll be posting my training until race week.

Official Results from USA Cross Country:


Mon - pm. 8 miles
Tue - am. 4 miles / pm. 12 miles
Wed - am. 8x1000m (3:11, 3:08, 3:09, 3:08, 3:09, 3:11, 3:13, 3:06) 10 miles total / pm. 8 miles
Thur - pm. 8 miles
Fri - am 6 miles
Sat - am. 2 mile shake out, 12k USA XC Race 38:48, 4 mile cool down. 15 total
Sun - am. 17 miles @ 8400' - 9000' feet in Rollins, CO

Total: 88 miles

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

USA Half Marathon Championships review

With more than 2 weeks after the race, I have finally got some time to write a little bit about my 1:05:38 performance.  I guess I don't have a whole lot to say about this, as I didn't achieve my goal of a sub 1:05:00. The coincidence of this race, was that I ran the same exact time I did back at this championship in 2009.  Looking at that, it's kind of nice to know I can still fade to the same result.  Ideally, I would like to be faster and stronger, so perhaps I am stronger as most of my training has been geared towards the marathon.

Here's a few quick thoughts of my race; I went out a little more conservative than in 2009, meaning I was on pace for the majority of the race.  When I got caught by a group of guys running the pace (4:57/mile), I decided to stick with them and run in the back of the pack, as opposed to race the leader of the group.  This seemed to help me, and I stuck to the pace better than I have in the past.  When I finally faded off pace, I just kept hammering away and trying to stay focus - not that I didn't do this in the past.  At this race, there was always someone around in front of me, so that I could gauge where I should be.  In the past, most races I've run don't have that motivation, which can be hard.

So, all and all, it was a good effort and a pretty good indicator as to where I am at for Boston.  Running a 65 min half with about 10 weeks before a marathon is a good sign.  I'll be ready to roll in Beantown.  And compared to 2009, where I was 24th place; I was way down the list at 39th place.  American distance running is truly improving.

Finishing hard.
photo by Stephanie Ward

Half Marathon Results:

PlaceAthlete Name5k10k15k20kFinish
1Meb Keflezighi
San Diego, CA
2Aaron Braun
Englewood, CO
3Josphat Boit
Mammoth Lakes, CA
4Tyler Pennel
Blowing Rock, NC
5Matthew Llano
Flagstaff, AZ
6Luke Puskedra
Beaverton, OR
7Shadrack Biwott
Folsom, CA
8Fernando Cabada
Boulder, CO
9Tim Ritchie
Brighton, MA
10Gabriel Proctor
Mammoth Lakes, CA
11Sean Quigley
Lafayette, CO
12Jonathan Grey
Minneapolis, MN
13Ben Bruce
Flagstaff, AZ
14Scott Macpherson
Columbia, MO
15Ahmed Osman
Flagstaff, AZ
16Elliot Krause
Madison, WI
17Tyler Mccandless
Boulder, CO
18Craig Curley
Tucson, AZ
19Joe Moore
Manhattan, KS
20Joseph Gray
Colorado Springs, CO
21Jeremy Freed
Longmont, CO
22Enoch Nadler
Richardson, TX
23Sergio Reyes
Palmdale, CA
24Brandon Birdsong
Manitou Springs, CO
25Dan Kremske
Woodstock, IL
26Daniel Tapia
Castroville, CA
27Craig Leon
Eugene, OR
28Anthony Solis
Sacramento, CA
29Cole Atkins
Blowing Rock, NC
30Thomas Dialynas
Denver, CO
31Benjamin Sathre
Chaska, MN
32Michael Reneau
Minneapolis, MN
33Eric Ashe
Boston, MA
34Gregory Leak
Steilacoom, WA
35Ryan Kienzle
Canton, OH
36Matthew Williams
San Antonio, TX
37Sean Brown
Aurora, CO
38Connor Kamm
Nashville, TN
39Jesse Armijo
Albuquerque, NM
40Josh Whitehead
Madison, AL
41Jonathan Mott
Babson Park, FL
42Jeremy Criscione
Gainesville, FL
43Kieran O'Connor
Arlington, VA
44Dan Greeno
Minneapolis, MN
45Rory Tunningley
Austin, TX
46David Fuentes
Austin, TX
47John Dewitt
Oshkosh, WI
48Jason Holt
Kaysville, UT
49Jared Carson
Austin, TX
50Brandon Dworak
Memphis, TN
51Daniel Kerr
Winston-Salem, NC
52Logan Sherman
Plano, TX
53Rio Reina
Austin, TX
54Jake Marotz
Saint Paul, MN
55Jake Krong
Salt Lake City, UT
56Christopher Sloane
Gaithersburg, MD
57Matt Barrett
Madison, WI
58Luka Thor
Gretna, NE
59Tibor Vegh
Raleigh, NC
60Jose Munoz
San Antonio, TX
61Riley Cook
South Weber, UT
62Chass Armstrong
Greenville, SC
63Ryan Cosens
Costa Mesa, CA
64Aaron Davidson
Lenexa, KS
65Brian Finnel
Madison, WI
66Matthew Grey
Minneapolis, MN
67Brent Martin
Gambier, OH
68John Coyle
Logan, UT
69Tim Jeffreys
Brooklyn, NY
70Daniel Kahn
Houston, TX