19 September 2015

Crystal Mountain Sky Marathon

Ouch... so close.

Last year when I ran the Crystal Mountain Sky Marathon I fell around mile 11 and sliced open my right thigh. Pretty dramatic looking stuff but luckily not debilitating and I finished, pretty well considering. This year my goals were 1) not to fall, 2) run healthy/injury-free and 3) to see if I could better my previous time.

ASIDE - #1 was also one of Shelley's goals for me.

[Thanks to Jodee Adams-Moore for these very cool (and kinda hippie) finisher medals!]
Technically I did fall but it was on super soft ground and I only got dirty so we'll fudge a little and say that I accomplished #1. And I did beat my previous time so #3 gets a checkmark as well. But my damn left hip flared up on the first descent (around mile 5 perhaps?) so every running step after that was accompanied by either a little or a lot of discomfort. Boo.

It was so lame how it happened, I was just turning a corner going downhill and strained my hip. It was not a dynamic move or a large step or anything that would be an obvious cause; evidently my body is not 100% healed up yet.

Luckily hiking and steep descents were not painful so I channeled my efforts into those activities and made up as much ground as I could on the really steep sections to hopefully compensate some for my sucky running sections.

Blah, blah, blah... honestly my glass is half full as I was able to push myself and considering my up-and-down fitness this year I should be elated with my result. And I am. And the pulled pork at the finish line BBQ was superb so bonus!

The gear.


Start time was 8:00 AM so there was no ridiculous alarm time required. As long as you don't consider 4:30 ridiculous. Since I usually get up then anyway it didn't mess with my day. I picked up Mitchell Burbick and we headed out.

To Tacoma. Because like an idiot I missed the turnoff to Hwy 18. Maybe I should start drinking coffee?

No crisis, at 5:30 there isn't much traffic so a quick u-turn and a 5-mile detour was all it took to get us on the right route. And we still pulled into the Crystal Mountain parking lot before 7:00 AM.

Let me just say that Skyrunning is where it's at. I have always enjoyed scrambling and descending, toss in a little bit of fitness for the climbs, a dislike for long flat running sections, a dash of adrenaline junkie and bingo - Martin loves these kinds of courses. Not only are Skyrunning courses steep and rugged, they are frequently not even on an official trail! These races often take the most direct route from point A to point B whereas a trail might switchback up or down to ease the grade. Cool stuff.
We started right on time - thanks for that Scott McCoubrey - and promptly headed up the first section which is a climb from the base of the ski area to the top of the Mt Rainier Gondola. The sky was blue, the clouds were sparse and the view of Mount Rainier was AWESOME!

On this climb I felt like everyone and their dog was passing me. Yet I didn't feel like I was dragging that much... Someone more focused on time would have perhaps written their splits on their arm or something and since that is not me this was just a gut feeling. But I knew from running this course last year and from running The Rut 50k that on climbs like this it does little good to push beyond your fitness because you will pay the price and the result is net negative.

ASIDE - it would seem like a totally basic thing to carry the nutrition that works best for you, right? But come race day people want to travel light and so choose to rely on whatever the event is serving up or they make stupid decisions and decide to experiment with whatever the event is serving up. Make no mistake, I have done both but especially after running The Rut 50k and experiencing the excellence that is having an event serve you exactly what works for you (Hammer Nutrition in my case) I am slowly coming around... Today I carried everything I would need for the entire run.
Seeing as I started with two full bottles and seeing as one can only drink so much on a 3-mile climb when your heart is racing and seeing as most of the course between aid station #1 and #2 was downhill all I had to do was round the cone at this first aid station and keep right on going. Nice. As I jogged away from the aid station I sucked down my first Hammer Gel.

This next section is FUN! You run across the top of the ski area and then drop off the top right into a black diamond run. And just like that there is no trail.

You are bounding down a grassy ski slope and are running from flag to flag. Last year Casey Bates and I almost made a wrong turn here because I mistook a red bush for a flag. This year I was all Mr. Eagle Eye and as I approached one flag I would look up and spot the next one. I managed to pass some of the rabbits on this slope even though it is pretty short.

It was on this section of the descent that I tweaked my hip. A little history, my left hip is weaker than my right. I originally hurt it doing a track workout. I then proceeded to rest it which just made it even weaker. Turns out the best thing for my hip is specific strengthening exercises and I guess I have not yet done enough.

This descent has a small 'bump' in it but then it's MILES of wicked fast, quite soft, banked-corner-having singletrack. Go! And here is where experience paid off again. Last year I bombed this and in hindsight went a bit too fast for my fitness. This year I held back just a bit but I still caught back up to Patrick Halferty and Dave Miller and we ran to the second aid station together. I also got stung by a yellow jacket on this descent but luckily it wasn't so bad. Especially with the endorphins flowing.
My running was so hobbled that on the flat, .125 mile approach to the aid station both Dave and Pat pulled away from me and I simply could not keep up.

But efficiency is key and as I approached the aid station I pulled out my packet of Hammer HEED, dumped it into my empty bottle and all I had to do when I arrived was fill it up and I was walking. As I walked away I gulped two Endurolytes and ate my second gel.

From here it's up a short section of trail and road and then another long descent that essentially parallels the Crystal Mountain Road but on the other side of the valley.

Pat was already down the road - he had spent even less time at the aid station than I but on this stretch of the course Dave caught and passed me and then Phil Kochik (who I had passed on the first climb) caught and passed me too. A bit further down the road we ran past an outhouse and who should pop out but Mitchell! I managed to rally somewhat when I pulled up next to me and we ran together to the end of the road.

From here it's just a short trail up the the third aid station and when I got there Mitchell was gone. I didn't know this until after I finished but right at that road to trail transition Mitchell rolled his ankle something fierce and he had to drop. Rats. On this little bit of trail that was still quite runnable two more people passed me.

Once again I was in and out of the aid station pronto. All I needed here was to get one bottle topped off and while a volunteer did that I at a gel and swallowed two more Endurolytes. I screwed the top on as I walked away and then it was on to the big climb of the course.

From here (mile 14.5) to the next aid station (mile 21) is mostly a hike and I made good use of it. I caught and passed Phil, the two guys that had nipped me just before the aid station, three other random people and eventually squeaked past Dave and Pat. But it's not all a hike and once you get off the first section of steep stuff it's a very gradual (and beautiful!) run across the ridge and here Dave and Pat hauled me back in. Just before the last steep climbing section I caught Martin de Vrieze (a good friend and excellent runner).

The last steep climb to the top of the ski area is hard. Especially if you have put in too much work on the previous steep section. I was feeling okay but simply could not accelerate any more and from here to the finish my position didn't change.

It's on this penultimate, steep climb, just 100' from the summit where Glenn Tachiyama hangs out. No doubt seeing people in their last death throes results in great drama. Not sure why but hearing his camera motor fire off a dozen shots as I hiked past gave me a tiny lift. Plus he seems to know everyone's name and calls you out - that's awesome.


At the top of the climb I saw Heather de Vrieze who also wished me well, that was another nice boost. She had done a shorter run that morning and was now cheering on her Martin.

I shuffled down the stone road, hiked up the last climb to the top of the gondola and 'ran' to the aid station. By now my hip was really pissing me off. :(

During my approached I dumped another envelope of HEED into my other bottle and as a volunteer filled it up I sucked down my last gel, popped two more Endurolytes and I was off.

As I was trying to leave the super polite aid station volunteer was trying to ask me if there was anything else he could do for me. I must have been slightly tired as I didn't really understand him at first. And then when I did understand and tried to reply my mouth was full of gel and it was hard to utter anything intelligible. Our conversation went something like this.
Volunteer: "Can I get you anything else?"
Me: --- [No doubt accompanied by a 1,000 yard stare.]
Me: "Oommmphgh..."
Volunteer: "You're doing great, I think you are in the top 20!"
Me: "Grruuumphgh..."
From experience I knew that if you have any reserves left here you can make up a shitload of time in these last five miles. Conversely, if you have blown your wad by the time you arrive at the last aid station I know you can lose a shitload of time between here and the finish. For a change I was feeling quite reasonable considering the effort I had put in so far and so the peaceful stillness and tranquility of the Cascades was frequently interrupted by me cursing my hip on this last descent.

There is a not-insignificant 800' climb right in the middle of this descent but it was not sufficiently long for my hiking to make a difference. I limped down to it, hiked up and over it, and then tried my best to run to the finish. I guess I did alright but it felt like I was crawling along. Make no mistake, I was NOT feeling fresh as a daisy but on this day I had metered my effort very well and nailed my nutrition/hydration so I could have gone a little faster with no injury.

As I left the last aid station I glanced at my watch and thought I would be lucky if I beat my time from last year (5:12). As I topped the last climb I saw 4:40 and started to contemplate a sub 5:00 finish. As I crossed under the chairlift just above the finish arch I saw 4:57 and twisted the throttle as best I could. And I made it. Whew.

I was worked.

But what a thrill to get everything out of yourself that you have to give on that particular day! Rarely does plain water and watermelon taste so good. Here I am trying to keep warm after the run.


Did I mention that Heather handed out large bottles of beer after her Martin rolled in? She is so nice. They went swimmingly with the post-race BBQ.

Thanks to Hammer Nutrition, Brooks, The Balanced Athlete and the Seattle Running Club for their support. Thanks to the amazing volunteers that make EVERY trail race happen and thanks to Mother Nature for the weather window as the blue sky was all gone when I finished and we even got a few sprinkles later on.

Sleep 5.75
Waking HR 45
Body Weight
Body Fat
Breakfast nothing
Nutrition 1 Hammer Gel 10 min before start
2 large Water Bottles each w/2 scoops Perpetuem and 2 Endurolytes, 2 bottles w/Hammer HEED, 4 Hammer Gels, 8 Endurolytes
Recovery water, watermelon
Injuries my left hip flared up around mile 5
Time of Day 8:00 AM
Workout Type race
Weather upper 40 at start, upper 50s at finish, perhaps a bit warmer during parts of the race
Course 4 climbs, 4 descents, plenty of steeps, off-the-chart views
Results 1st - Men 50-59
4th - Masters Men (40+)
23rd - Overall
official results
Time 4:56:31
[According to my watch all the times are about two minutes fast but as long as it's everyone...]
Distance 26.2 miles
Equipment Brooks PureGrit 3, Ultimate Direction SJ Ultra Vest 2.0
Clothing Injinji Trail 2.0 Midweight Mini-Crew, Brooks Infinity 3" Split Short, Hammer Nutrition Short Sleeve Running Shirt, #NoStoppingMonday hat, Brooks Pulse Lite Glove II [Which didn't even last all the way to top of the first climb.]

12 September 2015


logo variations

Oh man, My edition of Passport2Pain really should have been called "Passport2Pain++" or "Passport2Pain plus More Pain plus Even More Pain" because upon arriving at the finish I realized I had lost my car key somewhere on Vashon Island. This meant I had to ride 10 more miles (mostly uphill) to the ferry and then 10 more miles (with two more hills) from the ferry dock home. Ouch.

That said, this ride was everything I imagined it would be. We practically rode up every hill on the entire frigging island! I'm so glad for 1) the perfect weather, 2) some great company and 3) the outrageous (read: totally excellent) amount of support on this ride!


I had heard about this ride for years and the organizers really do a good job of promoting the event with humor. Like this here.


And in this case there is truth in advertising as my elevation profile shows.


it seems this year is when I finally start checking off items on my bucket list so when I heard about the ride again I finally thought, why not? Boom. I'm so glad I did. This is also a year for turning virtual friends into actual friends. Case in point, Ed Rosenberg, who I have known for quite some time on Facebook and who rode with me today which was the first time we met in person. Thanks Ed.

Getting to the ride is easy and with an 8:00 AM start time I got plenty of sleep and there was no need for any extra clothing. Bonus! They start you in waves of 2-4 riders spaced roughly 60 seconds apart to help minimize road congestion which seems super smart as the roads on Vashon can get a little narrow.

Some of the roads on Vashon are also not in the greatest state of repair and/or totally covered in a blanket of moss! Just another reminder that this is NOT a race and that you DO need to exercise some caution on the descents. We encountered grades up to 23% and 15% was very common so if you are not careful you will pick up some serious speed there was more than one instance of me being vary grateful for awesome stopping power that is a dual-pivot brake caliper. Let's just say that I like to descend and that there were a couple of times where my heart rate got at least as high going down as it did going up. :)

When you check in you get all the usual swag (t-shirt, water bottle) and they also give you a real passport that you get stamped at each aid station.


These stations are either at the top or bottom of a major hill and as you can see from the other passport picture above, with 18 stations you get a clue about what you are in for. The stations are roughly five miles apart but some are even closer so you are WELL tended after. Not only do they all have various kinds of food and drink, they each have a unique theme! Two of my favorites were a bondage/dungeon theme



and a Hawaiian theme.



How was the ride? The first half was nice. I was even able to find humor in the grades were climbing and marvel at how useful it would be to have a compact crank (I did not). At 50 miles in I thought 80 would be no problem. Somewhere around 60 miles in it seemed like a bit of a problem. Around 70 miles in it became A BIG GIANT PROBLEM. Suffice it to say that having switched from cycling to running as my primary activity has left me just slightly under trained for events like this. The handful of longer rides I have done this summer didn't exactly equate to the race training I used to bank.

In spite of the fact that my legs were failing me, my attitude never did. That, and Hammer Nutrition Endurolytes saved my bacon.

Seriously, this was a good time! But just as seriously, if you are contemplating riding the 80-mile route, please 1) put in some training and 2) bring some low (lower than you think you need!) gears. At the finish I heard one guy say this was harder than RAMROD. At the time, I was in no position to argue. Look at all those hills!


Once you do finish you are in for a treat! This ride boasts a genuine BBQ, beer (Manny's Pale Ale), ice cold cider and man did it all hit the spot.




And the finish line venue at the Vashon Island Crew house is so slouch!



Even the extra credit miles and the associated hassle of having to retrieve my car could not dampen this day. I had an excellent time would absolutely return for another assault on the island.

if you like a challenge, this is the ride for you!

Here are all my pictures and video.

Sleep 6
Waking HR  
Body Weight  
Body Fat  
Breakfast nothing
Nutrition 2 large Water Bottles each w/2 scoops Perpetuem and 2 Endurolytes, 2 more bottles with Endurolytes Fizz, about 6 more Endurolytes, various fruit, cookies, nuts and a PB&J from the aid stations
Recovery pulled pork, BBQ chicken, coleslaw, Manny's Pale Ale, more pulled pork, some water
Time of Day 8:00 AM
Workout Type epic hill workout
Weather 60 at the start, 80 at the finish, clear sky, sun
Course "The Idiot" (the 80-mile route)
Results A sense of accomplishment! A full stomach!, Sore legs!
Time roughly 6:30
Distance 80 miles
Equipment Ti Cycles Hyak
39/53 chainrings, 12-27 cassette
Clothing bib shorts, sleeveless undershirt, sleeveless jersey, cap

06 September 2015

The Rut 50k

Boom! Just two days after the Lone Peak Vertical Kilometer Martin gets to do the Lone Peak climb all over again as part of The Rut 50k, this time after an 18-mile warm up. And what a warm up it was.

Pictures sometimes really do tell the story best, here is one of my favorites.

The weather in Big Sky had been deteriorating slowly over the course of the weekend. Saturday night it rained and the temperature was dropping. I kept adding items to my gear bag one by one as the evening wore on thinking it would be prudent to exercise caution instead of risking freezing my ass off. Plus I was planning on running with my vest so could always stow clothes if it warmed up.

Start time was 6:00 AM and this time of year that meant the sun was not yet up so headlamps were recommended. The organizers were going to let you ditch them at the first aid station if you had your name all over your lamp. I did not. Turns out stuffing it in my pack was not a big deal.

Upon showing up everyone was huddled into the packet pickup tent as they had propane heaters roaring.


I discovered that the lodge was open and it had a clean restroom so I spent the last few minutes before the gun in there.

By the start conditions had improved! Although it was freezing (literally!), the sky was almost totally clear and the starry night was an incredible sight. In the end I opted for a light weight long sleeve shirt under my short sleeve running shirt, a super light wind shirt over that and a hat and gloves. I also wore some boxer brief type shorts liners under my running shorts that help insulate my junk. I run kind of cold and so this worked very well. It also eliminates chafing - just FYI. I saw some other people that wore less but it wouldn't have worked for me and when the day did warm up my two shirts were sufficiently thin and wicked moisture sufficiently well that I didn't mind them at all. And I was able to stow the wind shirt, hat and gloves while moving.

At the the start the person on the microphone said, "We got a couple of inches of snow at the top last night but that's what you all came here for!" Amen brother.

We started in waves again so I got to see two groups of headlamps disappear up the hill before we were let go. Man was it dark.


And man are these dirt roads steep! Or perhaps it was the elevation? Probably both, anyway I was moving s l o w. Thank goodness everyone in my wave was moving at the same speed. Except for one guy, he squirted up the road at first only to be reeled in about one mile later.

Just after we caught the rabbit we exited the dirt road and headed straight up a grassy slope and then onto some singletrack. There was indeed a light dusting of snow on the ground even down here.

The first climb was tough! And from my very cursory inspection of the course profile I knew there were four (big ones anyway). Ouch! Let's just say that at this elevation my transition from hiking to running was a little more delayed than it would be down at sea level.

After the first climb there was quite a bit of running to the first aid station, for some reason I was not expecting that. And it was FUN running! Mostly you are heading down MTB trails so the corners are banked and except for a couple of spots you can stay off the brakes. Nice.

The first aid station was at one end of a frozen bridge.

I grabbed a gel and stashed my light as I walked away, I was out of there pronto.

Between the first and second aid station there was even MORE running. I really was not expecting that. And for some reason it felt like it was mostly downhill, at least at first.

ASIDE - in spite of me knowing that I had to climb all the way to the top of Lone Peak again and knowing that the Lone Peak climb was just one of four BIG climbs, it still unnerved me a bit to run down for this long. Funny how the mind can play tricks on you. I mean, it's not like running downhill will increase the total gain of the course but sometimes it sure feels like it will.

As I pulled into the 2nd aid station there was the one and only Scott McCoubrey! He filled my bottle while someone else helped me rip open my packet of Perpetuem. turns out my hands were colder than I thought. Another Hammer Gel and two Endurolytes and I was walking away as Scott yelled after me, "This climb is a good one!" I bet it is Scott, I bet it is.

Boy was it ever.

It started out with some singletrack switchback climbing. I was able to jog most of the sections between the turns but then it pitched up something fierce and we were no longer on any designated trail. All that guided us was these teeny, tiny yellow flags and the footprints of the first two waves. Pretty cool! And because one climb between aid stations is not enough, we descended our first scree slope too.


And then this course got real. Real steep. Real hard. Really everything I was hoping for. Pictures most likely won't do this justice but I'll give it a shot.

First we hiked up this grassy/rocky spine that was so steep your heels could not touch the ground.


Then we went across and up a HUGE scree bowl.

The scree climb lead into a dirt climb that was so steep everyone was using both hands. It didn't flatten out any until about 50' from the top where I used the opportunity to grab another picture.


And then the course immediately plummeted down the other side.


Once over the next ridge this is me trying to run...

I try not to use the word epic a lot but damn... take a second and scroll back up to the picture at the very top of this post. I know, right? I was loving it.

Finally, aid station three. And here was another friend - Anthony Krolczyk - ready to take care of me. Lucky for me all I needed here was 15 seconds in the porta potty and I was off. What was next you ask? Why another really steep climb of course. This was mile 18 and the start of our trip up to the Lone Peak summit.


Note the distance to the top. There was another aid station at the top. These aid stations were spaced according to how much time it would take runners to reach them, not according to how far apart they were. Nor sure but I'm guessing it took me close to one hour. For 1.4 miles. Is this sinking in yet?

My pictures of the climb are just mediocre but I do have one good story. All the way up there were people cheering us on. About half way up there was a guy with a pack full of Pabst Blue Ribbon tallboys cheering between sips of beer. As I trudged past I jokingly said, "I hope you brought enough to share..." and he promptly held out a fresh can. I took a good, long drink, handed it back and judging by his facial expression it made his freaking day. Mine too. That was very nice and it didn't taste half bad. And it made me think of Kelly Agnew, running superstar and even bigger beer mile superstar. And that made me smile.

Just before the top a woman that I had been leapfrogging all day (she was climbing better and I was descending better) passed me yet again. As I pulled into the aid station I watched her grab something from a friend, barely break stride and disappear down the back side.

Me, I stopped for peanut M&Ms. And then I started the descent.



It's hard to describe what running on this scree is like. It requires equal amounts of skill and faith. Most of the time when you put your foot down the rock underneath moves, sometimes quite a lot. You could never be too invested in any foothold that's for sure. I tried to capture this experience and suddenly thought, "Martin, what the hell are you doing!?" and put my camera away for a while.

What a rush. Totally unforgettable. And after I stashed my camera, I actually ran down this. Did I mention that I caught that woman again in spite of her having a several minute head start? That's right. :)

This descent just went on and one and on... Eventually the scree turned into a steep, loose dirt trail so I was surfing the dust and gravel. It felt like tons of shit was getting in my shoes but for now I couldn't be bothered.

Down, down, more down and then a couple of ups. Man did those climbs mess with my rhythm. On the upside I had the chance to talk to the woman I caught and then I caught up to another. Seems each one needed me to stuff something in their packs so I obliged them. I did think it was kind of humorous as I had just finished stowing my own wind shirt, hat and gloves but in their defense, they looked a bit more serious than me. And they weren't carrying a camera. Competitive racer alert! :)

After a couple of ups we did have a long descent on dirt trail. It was obvious to me that these two women were better climbers than I was and that they were racing each other so I figured I would try to put enough space between me and them before the start of the last climb so that I could beat them. Everyone has to have a goal, right?

I managed to bank a decent gap and as I started the last climb I kept listening intently. There was a support person at the transition from down to up with a cowbell so I knew that when I heard the next bell I would have a sense of the gap. And when I heard the bell the gap seemed like it would be sufficient. But then the trail got steep. As in straight up.

We were hiking up a black diamond MTB trail and being an advanced trail it had freaking ramps on it!


Ramps are fun. When you're going down. And you're on a bike. Going up we had to climb up and over them. Hahaha... very funny race organizers. But it gets even better. Sections of the trail were so steep that there were fixed ropes!


Now that's hilarious. Especially since this was not the only one.

Just as I was about to blow the trail topped out onto a dirt road and the grade eased quite a bit. But I was still walking. And sure enough, just 100' from the aid station both of the women that I had dropped passed me. And they did it with a vengeance! Once again they both flew through the last aid station and I stopped for food and to fill a bottle. I never saw them again.

Normally (read: when I'm not exhausted) I would do fine on this last stretch. It was several miles of a shallow descent and if you had any juice left you could haul. I was pretty out of juice at this point and 'hauling' for me had been reduced to a jog by now.

It was here that I saw the funniest (cruelest?) thing on the course.


Gotta love that dark sense of humor.

It was killing me that I couldn't run fast anymore. This terrain just begged for it.

Somewhere down here I also got passed by one guy. Rats.

From my all too brief course inspection I knew that there was a short hill right at the very end of this beast. What I found out was that after 29 miles of this it feels anything but short. Did I mention it was steep? Oh yes. My balls were already so sore from getting kicked so thankfully I didn't even feel this last foot to the groin. But boy did I slow down.

And then, finally, it was time for the last descent behind the village hotels and into the finish.

Remember all that sand that got in my shoes descending from the summit of Lone Peak? Well I got super lucky and it didn't wear a hole in my feet. But I did feel it during those last five miles and I really should have emptied my shoes.

It was in fact a great day! Not only did my feet hold up fine, so did the rest of my body! Sure I was tired and sore but I was not injured and it was a good kind of tired. Not the kind you are worried it might take physical therapy and weeks to recover from. Hooray for me!


What does Martin do after a massive run? For starters I had a beer.


And I took my shirt off.


And I got a (free!) massage.


There were so many things that made this race special.
  • The weather totally cooperated. Had it been wet or cold we would have had a miserable experience or been forced to run the "Plan B" course and it would not have been nearly as spectacular.
  • The volunteers! There were so many! They were all super nice!
  • Skyrunning, hello! It was very cool to hear all these French and Spanish conversations at the start and finish. And to see all these pros in one place? Fun!
  • The race directors are great. Mike Foote and Mike Wolfe get the job done, they do it well, and they are still willing to give you the time of day. In fact, Foote took the time to chat with me during what must have been a very hectic day for him. Thanks Mike.
  • Having Hammer Nutrition sponsor this event. I can't describe how awesome it is to have all the stuff I love and use on a regular basis ready and waiting for me at each aid station.
  • I finished!
  • I finished relatively pain free!
Thanks to all the support from Hammer Nutrition, Brooks, The Balanced Athlete and of course the Seattle Running Club without whom this would not have been possible.

Here are all my pictures and videos.

Waking HR
Body Weight
Body Fat
Breakfast nothing
Nutrition 3 large Water Bottles each w/2 scoops Perpetuem and 2 Endurolytes, 6 more Endurolytes, 4 Hammer Gels, banana, 1/4 of a PB&J, small handful of peanut M&Ms, a couple of potato chips, 2 bottles of Hammer HEED
Recovery  water, massage, stretching
Time of Day 6:00 AM
Workout Type race
Weather 30 at the start, upper 60s at the finish, dry, sunny, very windy up top
Course 10,000' of elevation gain, 'nuff said.
Results 2nd - men 50-59
official results
Time 7:40:22
Distance 50 km
Equipment Brooks Cascadia 10, Ultimate Direction SJ Ultra Vest 2.0
Clothing Injinji Trail 2.0 Midweight Mini-Crew, Brooks Equilibrium CoRe Short, Brooks Infinity 3" Split Short, Patagonia silkweight Capilene long sleeve top, Hammer Nutrition Short Sleeve Running Shirt, Patagonia Nine Trails Jacket, Hammer Nutrition SweatVac Winter Beanie, Brooks Pulse Lite Glove II

04 September 2015

Lone Peak Vertical Kilometer

Wow, check another item off of Martin's bucket list, the Lone Peak Vertical Kilometer was incredible.

A Vertical Kilometer (or VK for short) race is a Skyrunning event and as such has specific criteria. In a nutshell you need to start above 6,000' and then you need to go up for at least 3,000' more in no more than 5k. You get the idea, this makes for some steep climbing.

And Big Sky didn't disappoint! The base of the ski areas is at roughly 7,200' and the top of Lone Peak is at 11,166'. Total distance? Just a 5k. Go!

The start of this race was at 3:00 PM which you might think is awesome but for me it just means more milling around aimlessly and worrying about whether or not I should eat. Luckily it was a great day and so I took pictures.

Here is the start before all the pomp and circumstance.


Here is some very Montanaesque art.


Here I am trying to soak in the sun.


At one point I went and got my race numbers at packet pick-up.

And then eventually it came time to get on my running clothes and pretend to warm up.


Truth be told, I actually did warm up. I dumped my vest and jogged up one of the dirt roads. After what felt like about .125 miles I was completely winded and walking so faked it a little more and turned around. Living at sea level does take its toll.

Although the sky was blue weather here changes in a heartbeat and the organizers let you send a drop bag to the top of the course. I stuffed about three layers into my bag and I am oh so glad I did. Thank you race organizers!

Looking around most people were traveling uber light. Not only did 99% of the competitors not wear a vest/pack, pretty much no one had a handheld bottle and several guys went shirtless. Since I figured I was not going to crush much of anything and since my mouth gets pretty dry and since we were at elevation and since I thought I would need my hands for the upcoming scramble I wore my Ultimate Direction SJ Ultra Vest 2.0 to carry a bottle. And since I had the vest on, I also took my camera.

ASIDE - I laugh now thinking that I actually took pictures on a 5k race! But I'm pretty used to it and it didn't slow me down very much. I did hear one person at the top exclaim as I approached the finish, "Ha! That guy is filming us!" Indeed I was.

Here is the start of the first wave. These guys are running!

They sent us off in waves and you could self-seed so I selected wave 3/4. And then it was time to pack the chute.


And then we were off.

The first part of the climb is right up a bunch of ski runs so it does have some 'stairs' (read: flatter spots) and I learned very quickly that the key was not to push the climbs so hard or you would blow and not be able to run the flats.


Even though we were not even on the 'hard' part yet, these pitches were steep!

After 3 km you get to the start of the Lone Peak climb and from here you gain over 2,000' in just under 2 km. You literally take the most direct path up a ridge to the very top. Yikes!


Here I am crossing the road at the end of the ski run just before you head up the Lone Peak ridge trail.

This is what I came for! It was awesome! Amesomely hard yes but so cool. There was even a fixed rope at two spots for safety and the ridge got quite narrow in places and if you had slipped, you would have tumbled quite a ways...


How fast was I going up here? I'm guessing maybe one mile per hour... There was no actual climbing where you had to use your hands to pull yourself up but there were many places where I had to use my hands to grab the rock to steady myself so that I wouldn't fall down the slope. Like I said, awesome! So awesome that I had to stop half way up this ridge and take a picture looking back down.


I think a lot of people thought I was crazy for packing a camera. Here we are, wheezing and gasping for breath and I'm taking pictures. At least I didn't obstruct anyone in the process.

At first the slope was not insane and there were even a couple of sections I could run. Briefly.

Finally, after some seriously insane sections, we got to the top.


And I ran across the finish.


I caught my breath and then walked the extra 50' to the physical summit of Lone Peak and entered my name in the log book.


Then it was time for the Seattle contingent to take some group photos.


And then it was time to explore and enjoy this summit! Have I said how fortunate we were to have good weather...? Oh MAN this would have sucked if it wasn't nice out. Still, the wind was fierce up here and I was so thankful for every layer that I had in my drop bag.

ASIDE - like the giant conformist that I am, I bought a trucker hat at packet pick-up and wore it for the first time on this run. The visor was great to have but the wind was so strong that I had to stop half way up the Lone Peak ridge and tighten my hat so it wouldn't fly off my head. Up on this peak you are out there. In this picture you can see where we climbed up right behind the map.


In order to not impede other runners (and for our own safety no doubt) we had to take the tram down, run/walk a bit to another chairlift, and this one took us right back to the Big Sky Resort village.


That was a nice way to end the day. And what a day it was. Pretty sure I had a beer after.

I was (but shouldn't have been) surprised to discover how important pacing is even in a one hour event. People were leaving me behind like crazy at the start but I found my pace and caught and passed all but one person in my wave. I also caught and passed several people in the wave in front of me. Interestingly, I passed quite a few folks in the last 2 km. I credit my time on the Howe Street stairs for that. :) Mind you, there was very little accelerating, I was reduced to just one gear on this monster.

Thanks so Hammer Nutrition for the perfect fuel, Brooks for the perfect shoes (and shorts), The Balanced Athlete for all the support not only to me but also to the Seattle Running Club throughout the year and to Shelley for encouraging me make this trip (that was pretty selfish since she could not come and not super cheap).

Here are all my pictures and videos.

Waking HR
Body Weight
Body Fat
Nutrition large Water Bottle w/2 scoops Hammer HEED
Recovery 3 scoops Recoverite
Time of Day 3:00 PM
Workout Type race
Weather 60 at the start, maybe 50 at the finish with LOTS of wind
Course 3 km of dirt road and dirt slopes followed by 2 km of rock and scree scramble
Results 3rd - men 50-59
official results
Time 1:07:39
Distance roughly 5 km
Equipment Brooks PureGrit 3, Ultimate Direction SJ Ultra Vest 2.0
Clothing Injinji Trail 2.0 Midweight Mini-Crew, Brooks Infinity 3" Split Short, Hammer Nutrition Men's Sleeveless Running Shirt, trucker hat

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