Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Climbing The Walls

Blaaahhh... That's how I've been rolling lately. It's been super hard the last three weeks to get decent consistent training. I've got a full plate of "who the cuss knows," ahead of me in Colombia and training has been tough. I'm racing a 59k at extreme elevation and running through jungle to highlands to glacial mtns to the base of an active volcano! Cuss yea awesome!!! I haven't felt good or right since Loon, but I also haven't really taken a "break." I've been logging slow long miles over hills and have hit some mountains in preparation for the unknown of Colombia. I'm super excited JulboUSA is sending me (all inclusive) to Colombia. Maybe bc I'm a charismatic megafauna with the resilience of a mega virus, Julbo is entrusting me to be an ambassador... Which I will rock the cuss out of! The last three weeks have culminated some awesome runs with amazing people. 
This whole blog experience is fun as I meet people here and there that read this smut, some enjoy it , most others are not impressed (as I'm not impressed in meeting them, so we are even), and others might miss the main point of all my dribble. At the end of the day I'm highly positive, fortunate and grateful for all the experiences that I've come across and will venture too (and yes, all the whole time being totally cussing rad!). On a recent run with WarHammer Hammett we discussed people that inspire others and it made me really think. I KNOW I inspire other people, and probably more than I know, but I also KNOW that I'm inspired by even more people than I inspire and way more people than others know. So dig, I may inspire a single person a day, which is cool, but when left to think about it, I'm very fortunate for the people in my life as I'm inspired by no less than 20 a day... From my family and friends, random folks, elite runners who don't know my name (how the cuss could that be?!!) or the students in my class. I teach in Bellows Falls and have amazing students with great personalities. They inspire me everyday as I look at some of their backgrounds (zero support at home, fending for themselves and taking care of their younger siblings, single parents, both parents at home, wealthy, poor, split households, great parents, no parents, and any other scenario) and how resilient these kids are. (A lot of kids come from supportive backgrounds that I was privileged to come from) but any kid I meet that's dealing with any adversity is a little hero. And my community fosters tough, savvy kids and I love it! So yea, if I inspire you, I'm grateful if it makes you a better person or happy, but if you're inspired by me, then know my inspiration comes from many many more stronger than a tidal wave. 
Back to running: the last three weeks I have had some awesome runs! My OWL brother Matt Haley came north for a great trip up and over Mt Ascutney with Greg. Like I said, I'm trying to pound some hours on my legs in rugged conditions to get them ready for the most adventurous adventure yet, 36+ miles, starting at elevation and climbing to 16k feet? SMH, going to be unreal hard. 
I've also explored some amazing local trails that are being revived. One run in particular had two bald eagles! One flying high above the West River and the other being the under carriage of a sunbathing feminina along its shores ;). 
But the most epic and recent adventure was a Presidential Traverse. This was very fun and exciting. I'd like to preface, yes, I did go up there with the intentions of previewing the route in expecting to set an FKT. This will be highly difficult as the FKT is very competitive and the route does not suit my running style and abilities. The FKT is righteous and very admirable. 

Greg and I started at the Dolly Copp trail and planned a north to south route. The first few mtns are supposed to be the hardest so the idea of getting them done early was the plan. The beginning was awesome. I had a tough time running and had to hike a lot due to the technical boulder fields, but also couldn't stop looking around and taking in the sites! It was awesome. 
We hit up Mt Madison hut (where all but one of the "croo" were total elitist acting dbaggers) and continued on. After Mt Adams we ran into a little map discrepancy and headed down the wrong trail then back another trail towards Mt Madison. This sucked only bc we lost about 45 min and roughly 2 miles.
Great fun. It was an awesome day but I didn't realize how much hiking I would have to do! It was great for the legs in preparation for "god only knows" in S. America, but I truly wanted to be able to run more. But, I didn't cussing care at the  time as the weather was awesome and the company was great. (Side note: 60% of the hikers were awesome people with great attitudes! The other 40% seemed to be inconvenienced by runners on the trails. There were some cuss clowns out there. If you're a hiker upset bc a runner is one-upping you, go to hell, how about just love the fact that we are all enjoying the outdoors and being fit?! I felt it awesome that people were out bettering their lives. Not once was I upset that a person was hiking (and SHOULD be running), but leave your elitist trust fund entitled attitude at home!!! ((I have nothing against trust funds only spearheading the stereotype)). Once we got back on track it was a ton of fun to see the ridges and far off trails climbing and descending the mtns. I was rocking the La Sportiva Helios, Ultimate Direction race vest and had Salted Caremel GU's. I fueled properly the whole run and took advantage of the day in hopes to acclimate a bit to running and fueling. 
The summit of Mt Washington was a cluster cuss! It was great to see people outside but holy hell there were a lot of people. Ha. The climb to Washington from Clay was fun and awesome, then after Washington was very very enjoyable. I loved the southern Presi mtns and the trails that were there. If I did take a stab at the FKT I truly think my best bet would be a south to north attempt. I feel I would run well on the early sections and hike down almost as fast as I could hike up. Just my thinking... 
Lastly, if anyone knows how to respond to blog posts to the people that are posting to my entries, please cussing share how!!! I truly wish I could respond to the awesome comments people make (let's be honest, only 14 people read it, I'd love to thank them and respond back). I blog via my iPhone but cannot figure out how I can respond. I attempt to but it asked me to log in, where I'm already logged in and when I do so, I still can't respond to the amazing people that read my toad cuss... 
The crow awaits us all... 


Tuesday, July 8, 2014

High Ball Stepper

Well holy hell and goodness gracious! 
The marathon didn't leave me sore, just very tired. The culmination of 2000+ meters, 11+ hour car ride and a long weekend overall left me ready to rest and relax. 
I took Monday off to just lay around outside. I hit the river and swam a bit and was feeling guilty about not running as my mind really really wanted too. But the body just needed a rest. I had debated racing Loon at the end of the week (when I first signed up for the Sky series I miscalculated and thought I had two weeks before Loon) but over the next few days of running asked myself this simple question: why, what's the point?
I understand the point, but as I slowly adjust to longer races and the recovery that comes with them, what would be the point to go up to a highly stacked field and be sharp and possibly risk injury or even more fatigue? 
I talked with Greg while Voltroning a few runs and he pointed out that I sounded like I had talked myself out of racing and was feeling tired. Instead I would run a local 10k on Saturday, just go for a run, win a decent prize of dinners at the local inn and relax the weekend to its fullest. This could sound soft, but my body is tired and I don't have the gears I'd want to mix it up at a race with talent like Loon will have. 
Saturday came and went and I ran 36:30something for the local 10k, won by 6-8 minutes and relaxed the rest of the day. My brother came out later to help me fix a few things in my truck, eat some pizza and hot wings. It wasn't until my brother, Marcus, got here that the weeks worth of relaxation about NOT racing Loon was thrown away. 
It was all very simple: he wanted to see me race and said that he wanted to see what I could do KNOWING if just run a mtn marathon. He explained (hook, line and sinker) of how bad ass it would be to go out there and beat a bunch of people, compete and fight for a USA Mtn Team spot. He told me to not be a cussy and get out there and race. Little did he know, he had me at the first part of just wanting to see me race. Ha. All the other stuff did sound like fun and bad ass. 
So, Sunday, Marcus and I headed to Loon for me to put whatever I have left in the tank (heart) and get out there and mix it up. I knew it could be ugly, tough and very challenging based on the fatigue my legs have in them. 
The race was a 7 mile mtn race with a solid chunk of trail racing mixed in the first half before it climbs two very tough climbs. On an ideal day, when I'm fully prep'd (i.e. Sleepy Hollow) I truly feel I could fight for a top 6 spot and qualify for TeamUSA. With my present fitness and feeling I knew it was going to be very very hard and hurt like a cuss.
It is great to see friends you only see at these races and chat it up a bit. Marcus got a kick out if DoubleJ and Jim P's quote to me when asked how I felt. Jim said this, "big stage dude, Ferenc always steps up!" I super appreciated this vote of confidence, and believed him. The stage was going to be big, time to back it all up. 
The warm up for the race went, cussing awful! I felt like absolute dog cuss!!! Had to cut the warm up short to save the fumes. Five minutes from the start I did a few strides trying to wake my money makers up. 
The race started how I felt it would on flat and gradual uphills: blistering, or so it felt. However, I did charge out to the front to get in the mix of the top 20, but was very soon spit out to the top 35 in the first half mile. The first guys were rocking. I have no doubt that they were well below 5 min pace. This is where I felt the worse, I wanted to change gears and go and get fast but was dull and flat. The early pace was too tough for some and I slowly coughs a few before the XC trails. 
Once again, this should have been a speed playground. I did catch back up to a solid group of runners and passed a few bit not with the conviction I wanted. After the XC trail the true mtn race started. Once we started climbing I found that I had a climbing gear that would be on the verge of red-lining and I shifted in here. I was able to continue catching dudes and on the runnable sections hold them off behind me. 
By the first real climb I seemed to have moved up a lot as I worked my way past people. I must have been farther back than I'd know bc I picked off 6-8 guys on the first substantial climb. There then came a runnable section and I sprinted with all I had knowing any separation from the passed people and any catching of people will be valuable. I could see some fellows I knew and I used them as targets. I slowly would catch one then focus on the next guy. 
By the gondola and 6 miles into the race I moved into 20th place. I didn't know this at the time only after did Marcus tell me. I then gingerly flailed/plodded down the last decent before the Upper Walking Boss. I am very confident in my power hiking abilities, maybe it's my heart cares too much, maybe I'm too competitive but I knew it was time to drain the last ounces of all I had. I also knew that running wasn't going to be the best option for me up the last climb. So I started churning the power hiking with everything I had. I had a decent amount of people ahead of me as motivation and targets. I was locked in and grinding, caught one, then another. I looked back and could see that my hike style was outdistancing them and kept at it. When I tried to run I had a 6 inch stride, but when I powered up the hill with hands on the knees I was eating ground with a cadence faster then those running around me and twice as fast. By half way, I caught the group and out myself into 15th place. The next group was just far enough away to fuel me with motivation and hunger to catch but also too far away. I needed more race... 
I feel content with me race. I have everything I had and believe it was my best race on that day. 
15th place, 56+min. Tough day, but happy with the end result. It was tough and I'm very happy that my brother came with me and encouraged me to not be a cussy and get out there and mix it up! 
I did get some nice props from a runner that made TeamUSA on his blog writeup. Very flattering: ha. Top International Runner, I can dig it! 

Yes, I ran a Vertical K (and had to run back down) and a Mtn Marathon a week earlier BUT, so did Kasie Enman! Kasie hammered a top finish at Mont Blanc and then raced to a top finish at Loon. I truly believe that I was forged and cut from the Quarry of the Gods, but I'm convinced that Kasie is the one wielding the hammer, lightning and chisel!!! She is out of this world amazing!!! 

Sunday, July 6, 2014

Drilling Holes

After a day of buzzing around the peninsula and reflecting, a decent nights sleep, I felt ready to take on the mental piece of the Sky Running Marathon. There was to be over 2000 meters of elevation gain on the out and back course. The elevation profile looked honest and runnable. 

I had my Ultimate Direction pack ready with hydration (1 16oz hard UD bottle, 1 17 oz soft flask, 1 12 oz soft flask and 1 6 oz soft flask). I don't like the design of having the bottles on my chest, as I feel like it gives me breasticles, so I put then in the back (where the should cussing go!). I also loaded up on GU's (salted caramel) and one mint chocolate Clif Bar. I didn't eat a breakfast really (half a bagel and a blueberry Redbull), but felt full already before the race even started. 
On the race line I could tell that the field was... Limited (77% of all entered would drop out). 
The weather was hot, 93, and I opted to start the race with my jersey on. As soon as the race started though, I had to stop 3 min in to adjust my number then take the shirt off and tie it to my pack. I worries that I would chafe but never did over the whole course. My skin is just too awesome and gnarly. 
The first 8k was a winding, very rooty, single track that was very gradual and runnable. My philosophy for this race going in was to run fast when I could, be smart when I should. This section allowed for running fast. At the end of this section the trail switched to some steeper climbs to above tree line and just under Mt Xalibu, this is where the footing would be horrendous. A lot of scree that looked wicked sharp and was even more loose then it looked when you stepped on it. The rocks were the size of shoe boxes and this made for tough footing and a lot of concentration. 
At the point of Mt Xalibu I was just over an hour into the race and had only really been climbing for 25 min. The scree field would be much of the course above the tree line from here to the turn around. 
After cresting Xalibu we go back down the other side to where the 8 mile marker was. The trail then would dip, dive, duck, dodge and dodge itself for 2 miles. Here there were a lot of wooden plank bridges and the start of a small snowfield to run across. That part was fun and exciting. Short loved but very cool. The next 3 miles was 2.5 miles of clinging in wicked loose and large scree rocks to the summit of Mt Jaques-Cartier. This is a beautiful mtn top with large stretches of highland meadows on top. Very cool. Upon getting to the top I began to really feel the heat. I had been 2 hours of running and was very welcoming of the tune around. The turn around however was down a small grade of baseball sized, razor shape, rocks. While at the top of Jaques-Cartier I could see the turn around and it looked like a shimmering mirage very very very far away. Thank my kind it only took 6 min to get too! 
I was 2:14 at the turn around, where there was ice cold Pepsi. Slammed 6 oz of that, refilled all my bottles (as I was empty) and headed back. I didn't run into another runner until the exact top of Jaques-Cartier which meant I had a solid 12 min. Like one of my goals, I totally shut it down and played it safe down all the scree fields. They were too dangerous for me to try and pick too hard. I had a nice lead and with 8k if runnable trail, ain't no way I will be getting caught! The scree was about 45 min of the next hour, then it was smooth sailings the rest of the way.
I did have a couple close calls as I ran out of water very fast on the way back and was starting to overheat. The sun rises at 4 am here and it gets hot at 7-8 am. By 11 it was cooking hot and I still had an hour or more to go. Every stream I would stop and refill the hard bottle with very cold water and wash my mouth out and douse my head and neck with. I did this about 5 times the last hour of running which was crucial. Had I not I could have been in trouble. (Side note: on the way out I beat very aid station to being ready, so, that sucked in part of getting fluids but cool I was faster than they expected). 
I ran the last 8k very honest and was able to win a marathon, a trail race and a Sky Running Marathon in 4:26! 

I came to this race to punch my Sky Running ticket for the future and was able to procure a ticket to Europe next year! Very excited to get the A goal.  
Hopefully I can rest and recover a little and give the USA Mtn Running Championships a shot at Loon Mt next week. I truly think I can fight (or fought) for a top 6 spot if ready and rested. This race wasn't the best for that cause the week before, but I'll have no excuses and give everything I have in the tank on race day! Bc when the race starts, ain't nobody going to give a cuss about what I did a week before, it's all about the day of the race!!! The playing fields are fair and I'm ready to fight...
Cuss yea!!!