Sunday, April 5, 2015

Life's twists and turns

Tomorrow I start a new job.  Yeah, I know that I told everyone that I was going out on my own with full time race directing, but sometimes life throws other options in your path that are too enticing to pass up.
Since January, I've been lining up races, either looking to buy or starting new ones.  Things have been going pretty well in that department.  In June I will be taking over the RD duties for the Logan Peak Trail Run.  Starting next week, I have a weekly trail series starting here in Ogden, the Ogden Citizen Trail Series.  The Antelope Island Buffalo Run saw its biggest turnout ever with 854 signed up and about 770 showing up to race.  I now have a new website to better integrate the various events I'm doing now.  I'm still working on a 25K/50K race on the Good Water Rim Trail, although that's going to be delayed for a few more months.  I'm also looking at a couple of other races.
So, overall, things were looking pretty good.  I just might be able to make my house payment occasionally.
My last day at my contract job was Feb. 27.  I met with my boss, I told him of my plans, he wished me well and mentioned that he was a bit jealous.
The first week of unemployment, or self employment, found me working about 50 hours trying to get things lined up for the Buffalo Run, and working on these other things.  At the end of the week I had forgotten to send out my four required job applications in order to collect that unemployment check.  I hurriedly sent out four resumes for four positions to two different headhunter websites.  that was on Sunday March 8.  I really wasn't expecting to hear anything back.  I had put high salary demands, not sent cover letters, or any of the usual things you're supposed to do, because I didn't really care.
Well, that's when things start to get interesting.  That Tuesday I heard back from one of the headhunters.  She told me about the position, said that my qualifications looked perfect for it and could she present me to them.  I said sure, go ahead.  I've been presented numerous times over the past couple of years and it has never resulted in anything.  I fully expected the same thing.  She called me back the next day and told me that they wanted to interview me.  I told the headhunter of my schedule, that these next two weeks I was basically in full on panic mode with race stuff but here was my schedule, the rest of that week, MTW of race week, or they would have to wait until after the race.  She called me back and asked if I could go in Monday.  Sure, why not.  So in I went for about half a day.  The interview ended up going really well.  Things just clicked, I liked the people, the job looked very interesting and would definitely keep me hopping.  I told the headhunter that I'd like to pursue it if they were interested in me.  She called me back later that day, told me that they really liked me and could I come in again to meet with a couple more people.  I reminded her of my schedule and I ended up going back in on Wednesday morning.  Met with a couple more people, still liked what I saw and let her know.  She called me back that afternoon and said that they wanted to make me an offer and that it would come in either that day or Thursday.
Well, Thursday I was out on the island course marking, setting up race stuff and generally getting ready for the next couple of days.  Also, no internet access and sporadic cell phone, so naturally I didn't hear anything.  Friday morning I was out on the island, looking out over the Great Salt Lake, watching the sun rise, drinking my coffee and enjoying the calm before the 100 mile madness started and my phone rings.  It was the headhunter telling me the details about the offer.  In a word, it was too good to pass up.
The next thing was to set a start date.  I mentioned that my kids and grandkids were coming out a week after the race and I wasn't going to be at work while they were here, so a start date of April 6 was agreed to.
So, I start a new job tomorrow morning.  Added bonus, it's about 10 minutes from my house.  If they have locker and shower facilities, I'll be running to work.
If you're wondering what my job is, Manufacturing Engineer at JBT Aerotech in Ogden.  Full time, direct employee, full benefits.  Something I haven't had in a couple of years.  You know the jetways that you walk down to get on a plane?  Yeah, they're made right here in Ogden.
On an additional note, after I accepted the offer, I had calls from one other company wanting to talk to me and another headhunter wanting to talk to me about positions.  It's kind of like a couple that tries for years to get pregnant, gives up and adopts, and a month later she's pregnant.
So, full time job, additional races to direct, I'm going to be a busy little boy.
I guess the moral of the story is to remain flexible and keep your options open.  You never know what's going to just drop into your lap.

Thursday, April 2, 2015

Pickled Feet 12 hour race, it was a reasonably good day

Prerace - 
I've been wanting to get up to Boise and run one of their local races.  So many of the Boise trailrunning scene come down to Utah and run my races so it was time to return the favor.
I decided to run the Pickled Feet 12 Hour just as a last long run before I got out and give Salt Flats 100 another go.  Salt Flats is one of my key races this year.  As a result, I didn't have any real high expectations.  I knew I could get at least 50 miles in 12 hours provided things went went well, and I thought even 60 was possible given my effort at Antelope Canyon a few weeks back.  I even harbored this fantasy of a win if I had a really good day.  I always harbor fantasies of winning races, but that's all they ever are, fantasies.  Keep in mind I have never won a running race in my life.  Also keep in mind I'm 56 years old and my "fast" days are behind me.
I drove up Friday afternoon, hung out, drank beer, and ate pizza with a few Boise runners I know, watched the 100 mile, 24 hour, and 48 hour runners do their thing.  It was a good time.
Went to bed in the back of the truck around 11pm and slept pretty good.
Race day - 
The 12 hour day race started at 6am on the dot.  The weather was cool and windy, but not bad.  We started in the dark but I managed to forget a headlamp.  I managed to grab one from Emily, the RD just as the race started.
The course is an odd shaped lollipop that's a measured 2.5 miles.  A short section where all the runners pass each other, and a loop that the runners can choose which direction to go.
When the race started I found myself in the lead.  Now I've managed to do that in the past, but it's always short lived.  This time I felt pretty good, just dropped into an easy pace and managed to keep the lead, at least for the time being.  When we reached the "Y", I went into my race leader fantasy mode and figured that all of the runners would go right.  I went left and sure enough, no one followed.  Now I had the trail to myself.  I thought I would really pick up the pace since no one would see me and be tempted to follow and just see where things went.
Well, I met the other 12 hour runners on the back end of the course, and carried on.  I managed to finish the first loop in just over 23 minutes and was in the lead still.  I thought "this is weird", but was somewhat buoyed by the fact that I still lead the race.
Meanwhile, the rest of the day was pretty boring.  We had a cold front roll through early in the morning.  Very windy and a few sprinkles, but it cleared off after that and warmed up a bit.
My laps were very consistent in the 23-26 minute range.  After about 6-8 laps, I realized I was still in the lead.  It's hard to know exactly since runners can switch directions on every loop.  I did that some, but then settled in to going just the same direction.  I did know that there were a couple of other runners that were in the hunt, but I wasn't sure how far back they were.  This meant I was running scared.  Still, I kept the pace reasonable, not pushing, but not letting up either.  I finally found out from a friend that I was in the lead by at least a lap, or 2.5 miles.  Not too bad, so far.  Others started noticing that I was doing reasonably well and were cheering me on.  My typical response was to remind them that there was still time for things to go horribly wrong,  I kept waiting for things to do just that, for my legs to get tired, my mind to wander, to just want to take a walking break.  I resolved that I would run every lap I could regardless of how I felt.  The only time I would walk was occasionally through the timing/aid station area, or if I stopped by my makeshift aid station.
When I got close to the 50K mark I thought that maybe I could PR that distance.  I hit it in 5:04:35.  Dang close to a PR.  Since I still felt strong, I set my sights on a 50 mile PR.  I last set a PR at that distance way back in 2010 with an 8:59.  So not tremendously fast.  Needless to say, I was super excited to hit the 50 mile mark at 8:40:14.  Who knew I could still PR.  Doing that just fired me up more, especially since I still felt strong.  I was still in the lead by at least a full lap.  I did catch up with the guy running in second and we compared notes and I was definitely up a lap, plus he was starting to flag a bit, walking bits and pieces here and there.
Photo courtesy Jo Agnew

It was a this point that I thought I really did have a chance to win my first race ever, and possibly set a course record in the process.  As I went through the timing area on one lap, I asked Emily what the course record was, she told me on the next lap that it was 65 miles and change.  I mentioned that I thought I had a shot at it and she encouraged me to go for it.  Meanwhile, I just kept up a steady pace, running as close as I could to the same pace I started with.  I knew I was slowing a bit, but I never entertained any thoughts of walking while out on the loop.
Now the 100K mark was getting closer.  My previous PR was an 11:45 I ran at the Kettle Moraine 100K way back in 2004.  When I finally did get to 100K, my Garmin told me the time was 10:55:06, 50 minutes faster than that previous PR from over ten years ago.  Holy crap!
With just over an hour left, I opted to hit the long loop one more time.  I knew that the win was pretty much there, the only thing hanging was could I get a course record.  I figured at my current pace, I would without too much problem.  Once I finished that last long loop, I switched to the short .38 mile loop that allowed runners to maximize their mileage.  I managed to get a bunch of the short loops and finally called it quits with about 3 minutes left on the clock.  I had the win and the course record with 67.24 miles completed.
Aftermath - 
I finally sat down and quit moving for the first time in 12 hours.  Grabbed a beer and just enjoyed the moment.  I ACTUALLY HAD WON A RACE.  I have never done that.  I ACTUALLY SET A COURSE RECORD.  I have never done that either.  Almost a week later and I still can't believe that it happened.
I have never considered myself as having any real running talent.  I like to run, I do pretty well when I train hard, but most of all I have a pretty good time regardless of how I do.  I have noticed that I am slowing down just a bit.  Here I am, 56 years old, a grandfather, winning a race.  This race was one of those few races that we all have where everything just clicked, the stars and planets aligned and things just went right.  It is something that I will always remember.
Drew Adams, the 2nd place male, and myself.  Photo courtesy Jo Agnew

Fueling -
I used Tailwind, Ultragen, and bacon as my fuel sources.  Mostly Tailwind with about 600 calories consumed.  One dose of Ultragen at 320 calories, and about 5 pieces of bacon at I don't know how many calories.
Gear - 
Since this was a loop course with an aid station every 2.5 miles, I only carried a bottle sporadically when I wanted to get fueled.  For shoes I wore my Altra Olympus the entire time.  Love those shoes.  I ended up with one small blister and I might lose one toenail.  Not too bad considering.
Training - 
I'm not sure where I found this race effort, but I have to give credit where credit is due.  I've been spending a lot of time in the gym at Bomber Athlete.  Joel is a fellow ultrarunner and has been kicking my ass all winter in the gym.  I think it's working.  With the mild winter we've had, I've also managed to log a lot more miles than I usually do during the winter months.  Speedwork helps too.
Thanks and other stuff - 
Here's the Strava link to the race.
I need to mention a couple of other Utah runners that were there, Kelly Agnew was there to defend his 24 hour title.  Although he didn't set a course record this year, he handily won after comtemplating a DNF five miles into his race.  Davy Crockett was running the 100 mile event, and stomach issues forced him to take a 6-hour downtime.  Most other runners would have hung it up.  He came back out and finished.  While it wasn't a fast time, he did complete it.  That says a lot to his perseverence and toughness.
Many, many thanks to Emily Berriochoa, the RD and her crew.  This was a very well run race.  Aid was constant and plentiful, timing was superb and accurate, everyone was super friendly.  I loved it.