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Archive for June, 2012
Less than 100 days to go for “T”
Tuesday, 19 June 2012 19:42
I spent last week in a so called recovery week as I tried to get my body to heal from the pounding I put on it at the San Diego 100 but not sure I really accomplished that goal. My running streak has now reached 828 days and I have less than 95 days until I reach my goal of running 4 miles a day for 923 straight days. I hope if you have nothing planned on September 23, 2012 you will join me for what is sure to be an emotional run in the McDowell’s.
I have a couple chinks in the armor after the 100 mile run but nothing that seems to be bothering me while I’m running. I spent most of the week running pretty short mileage but I tried not to shy away from climbing because Speedgoat 50K is staring me right in the face.
I am going to take this as a fun run and just go out and use it as a long, extremely difficult training run but I would still like to run solid from beginning to the end. I am pretty excited since this will be my brother-in-law’s first ultra marathon excluding the 47 miles he paced for me at Lean Horse 100 last year. It didn’t take too much convincing to talk Kevin into this race, he is always up for a good challenge and even though he will have to train at sea level for this race I know it won’t get in his way.
Speedgoat 50K is a very interesting race because one it is never just a 50K, last year measured 33.6 miles and it takes as long as lots of 50 mile races. To put this difficulty of this race into perspective let me throw out some of my previous 50K and 50M race times from the last couple years.
Pass Mountain 50K – 4:58:01
San Tan Scramble 50K – 4:45:08
Cave Creek Thriller 50K – 5:05:12
Old Pueblo 50M – 9:56 (lost for 5 miles so ran 55 miles)
Nueces 50M – 9:37 (Lost for 7 miles so ran 57)
Bandera 100K – 10:37
Now with those times in mind let me throw out that it took me 7:56:32 to run the Speedgoat 50K last year. Yes you read that right and to put it in a better perspective I finished 53rd out of 300. Here is a little promotional video from McKril’s youtube site to watch before you see the elevation profile.
Speedgoat 50K 2011
How is that possible you might be asking yourself? I would include the funny hand drawn cartoonish picture that is usually present on Speedgoat Karl’s website but he digitized it this year to make it look even more difficult. This race starts right around 7600 feet of elevation and within the first 1/4 mile you’re climbing a 15% grade up the slopes of Snowbird on your way to 11,800 feet. For guys like Kilian Jornet, Nick Clark, James Bonnett, and the other 10-15 super elites in the field this is not an issue but for us mortals this climb sucks the air right out of your lungs and if you can move 2 miles an hour at times you’re doing well.
I actually love this race not only for the 11,000+ feet of vertical gain but also for the 11,000 feet of descent. Most runners actually despise this but how great is it knowing once you reach the top of Hidden Peak at mile 8.4 the next six miles are a quad thrashing descent that finally levels off just past the 14 mile mark. Most runners will hold back in this section because they know what comes right after which is a second climb to Larry’s Hole, the infamous tunnel, and let’s not forget the crazy climb up the ridge line to get back to Hidden Peak for a second time.
This is one of the most difficult climbs I have ever done in a race and it is not just because of the elevation it also has a lot to do with the rocks, snow melt coming down the mountain, and the climb up to the “elevator shaft” to the tunnel is so brutal that you’re lucky to take two steps before putting your hands on your knees to get a breath and keep your heart in your chest This year should prove to be a little easier without 70+ inches of snow on the ground in late July but I doubt Karl will let us off without some additional challenges.
The marathon mark is where you see your crew/aid for the last time after summiting three false ridge lines that all appear to be the top of the mountain. It is so painful that you can see your crew and they look like they are in arms reach but as soon you see them you’re sent around the back of the mountain to climb again. This part of the race just made me laugh last year because it was almost comical when thinking about the amount of mountains that needed to be crested in order to get to the top. When you’re at the top the wind is blowing 25-40 miles an hour and the gondolas look so enticing to just take to the bottom of the ski slope but instead you have 5-7 miles of descent depending on how he marks the course to finish the race.
Last year it seemed that we ran past the finish line 5x before actually finishing the race and I really have no idea of exact mileage because after a few of these crazy climbs and descents my Garmin was beeping every two seconds because it was having difficulty plotting the points. I was not able to hammer the final downhill section last year because I banged my knee coming through the snow on a boulder on the final ascent but this year I plan on taking a good thirty minutes off my time if I can get to that point injury free. That is always a big if in this race.
So this weekend it is time to get to Flagstaff and start to get back to altitude training. There will be a few trips up Weatherford, Eldin, Kendrick, and Humphrey’s between now and July 28th to try and get me acclimated.
Last year I only ran in Flagstaff once prior to race day and it was tough on my lungs as soon as I started climbing. Since I had no time to acclimate properly last year we showed up just 12 hours before the start of the race to help keep the altitude sickness at bay. It worked out well and I didn’t suffer any headaches, nausea, or sickness during the race but I felt like I was on a sailboat when I got back to the hotel and lay down. I was spinning but after a couple hours I was able to get my heart rate in check and enjoy the rest of my time in Snowbird. This year we are going to hang out in Park City for a week after the race and get some additional altitude training as I prepare to run the Pine to Palm 100 in Oregon on September 15th.
San Diego 100 Race Report
Tuesday, 12 June 2012 20:24
Some people run 5K’s, 10K’s, half marathons and marathons but for some reason unbeknown to me I have decided to run hundred mile races. I often find myself daydreaming during my long runs and I can’t ever seem to come up with a reason why I shouldn’t run hundreds except during the races themselves. I think “wow I could run a marathon and be done in 3 hours or so” but man would that hurt.
Read my entire race report from the San Diego 100M Race here.
San Diego 100 Tracking
Thursday, 07 June 2012 19:04
I am all packed and have more caffeinated items sitting on my dining room table than even I thought existed.
Time to bring this buckle home
I figure if I can’t have an IV of caffeine during the race I might as well administer Roctane Gu with 2x caffeine every 45 minutes to keep me going. I find it a little crazy that I pack more for a hundred mile race than I would to pack for a week’s vacation but that’s pretty typical. I guess being prepared is good but inevitably I bring back 90% of what we lug to a race. I am bound and determined to put these calories in my body before I return on Sunday so I am not tempted to sign up for another 100 this summer because I have extra supplies. I already did that earlier this year and signed up for Pine to Palm 100 in September.
If you’re sitting around the house bored on Saturday afternoon or evening I wanted to provide everyone with the link so you can track the race. I have fallen victim to sitting around in front of my computer hitting refresh for more races than I care to reveal so if you’re like me here you go
. I am pretty excited to be heading down to San Diego with a great group of friends from Phoenix that are running including Mark Cosmas, Jon Roig, Michael Miller, Adam Barstad, Andrew Heard, and Lindsay Schiewiller. That doesn’t even include all my California ultra friends, pacers/crew (Traci, my sister Jill Conte, and Vanessa Rodriguez), and all the great people I will meet throughout the race. This is going to be a helluva weekend. Now if I can just find that list of what my pacers and crew are aloud to ask me when I arrive at an aid station. Maybe I read it in a book somewhere, I just can’t seem to place it. Hmmmm????? Wait, nevermind you can talk about anything you want, in any language you want and I will listen because I ask people to pace and crew that love to talk because I can’t stop talking.
California here we come
Wednesday, 06 June 2012 13:05
It feels like it has been a long time since I ran my last 100 mile race but it was just 7 months ago when I completed the Javelina Jundred. When I went into Javelina I felt prepared to run but I wasn’t overly excited about running another hundred after just doing Lean Horse 2.5 months earlier. I was excited for the event but not excited about how I felt.
Photo from AP
This is the complete opposite, for once I am going into a race mentally and physically prepared and I am not letting anything stand in my way of getting that sub 24 buckle. My friends and family say why do you run 50’s and 100’s when you can run marathons and be done in less than three hours and the answer to that is because I can. I can run 50 and 100 miles and while that seems arrogant so can you if that is what you trained for. I’m wired a little different than the runner that wants to run a sub 3 hour marathon, I am a runner that wants to experience a course, challenge myself, suffer at times and ride the wave other times. While running a hundred is not for everyone I can tell you the flood of emotion that runs through your body as you run the last mile of the race makes it all worthwhile. I am now where near being an elite runner but both times as I crossed that 99 mile mark and headed toward the finish I have had the high that an elite marathon runner must feel when they are handed the American flag to run across the finish line. I can envision myself holding that flag and the range of emotions are uncontrollable which both times have gone from elation to tears. While I will never be draped with the greatest flag in the world when I cross the finish line of a race; I love to visualize the moment of holding the American flag in honor of this great country. Running ultra’s brings pride to myself, I am not looking for others to run ultra’s or even understand why I do but understand that we all run for something and whatever our individual reasons are is all that matters.
People say runners are pretentious and run for the respect of their peers but that is completely untrue for about 99% of runners. There is a runner high as I described but how about the tears of joy for your competitors and friends as they cross the finish. I don’t get too caught up in the winning crowd because most have been there before but how about the emotion of the 32 hour hundred mile finisher that has battled and battled all day and night and when they see their family and their eyes swell up and the tears just start to run down there face like they used to for my Dad every time he watched Rudy. No matter how many times I sit there and watch it still amazes me that people have the mental power and physical strength to fight and fight and get through anything that is dealt to them.
So this Friday I am off to San Diego to run my third hundred mile race and for once I am not nervous, not feeling phantom pains, but feeling ready. My coach asked me to set an A, B, and C goal and I decided my goals were not going to have anything to do with time. I could easily say my A goal is Sub 20, B goal is 21, and my C goal is 22 but that gives me nothing to work towards. So here are my A, B, and C goals for Saturday/Sunday.
A. Not think of this as a race but instead have fun, clear my mind like I did when I first started running and let the time fall into place. Trust in myself and my training.
B. Revel in the pain and not let that and any mental woes halt my forward progress. Don’t give up on myself because I am feeling a little uncomfortable.
C. Negative split the second half of the race. This is something I have never done but with a conservative start I can hold my pace and make a move later in the race.
Yes they are different goals and they will be difficult to achieve but if I can stay up on my nutrition and go after these goals I will have a successful race and the time will be what the time will be. I am ready for this race, I have trained my butt off since Javelina and have raced the 100K Trail National Championships, 50M Trail National Championships, 50K San Tan Scramble, Zane Grey 50M, ran 50 miles of the Mogollon Monster 100 course, 24 miles at the Grand Canyon, and countless runs of 30 miles or more. My legs feel fresh, my mind is clear and now I need to go run. I am not expecting to set a 100 mile PR, I am expecting to run a solid race. Each hundred is different just like each marathon is different so your race is dependent upon the course that is in front of you and how you battle through the ebbs and flows.
This race will be my sister Jill’s first experience at an ultra event and she is flying out tomorrow night from Michigan to pace me for 25 miles or so. She is a marathon runner who is interested in the sport of trail running and will get to experience all the highs and lows with me throughout the race. I will have Traci crewing and also running around 10-15 miles with me. I would love to have her do more but she is coming off a huge 18 minute PR in the Ojai to Ocean marathon last week and I don’t want her to get injured.
This will look good on the mantle
I have been looking for an additional pacer and a new Facebook friend Vanessa volunteered to pace me from miles 72-84. This will be fun since she is an editor for
and writes an amazing trail running newspaper and blog at
so we will have tons to talk about during this long stretch. I always like to run with new people and chat away since this keeps my mind in the right place.
Thank you everyone for the support and for those of you who have done training runs with me to get me ready for this Saturday. Its buckle time and I can hear the cow bells ringing already. Bring it on San Diego!!!!
This is what my wife looked like after Sunday’s marathon, I just hope to look half this comfortable on Sunday.
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MARY ELLEN DANEK
Couch to 5K week 1
2015 Most influential person in trail community
2015 Women’s Ultra Runner of the Year
2015 Most influential person in trail community
2015 Women’s Ultra Runner of the Year
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