Davy Crockett’s Running Frontier

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Coldwater Rumble 100

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I again ran Coldwater Rumble 100 in Goodyear Arizona, near Phoenix, put on by Aravaipa Running, the same group that puts on Across the Years, Javalina Jundred (100), and others.  Last year I ran this race and finished in 29 hours.  I went away humbled, knowing that I didn’t run well, and thought I wouldn’t return to this race.  But I did return and was determined to do better.

Coldwater Rumble provides races of various lengths: 4 miles, 20K, 20 miles, 52K, 52 miles, and 100 miles.  They all start on the same day with staggered start times.  About 400 runners would be on the course that is laid out on various desert trails in Estrella Mountain Regional Park.  You could clearly tell which race a runner was in by the color and number on their race bib.

The venue for the race is Estrella Mountain Regional Park, nearly 20,000 acres of beautiful Sonoran Desert set aside to be used by hiking, mountain biking, and horseback riding.  On this weekend, the runners took over the trails. continue reading…

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2015 was a good running year for me.  For the past few years I have been slowed from continued consequences of the massive tibia stress fracture that I experienced in 2012. Opening 2015, I still was having some issues but as the year progressed, stability in that leg area returned and I worried less about it.  I still fear running faster than 7-minute pace, which seems to cause tears in the area so I’ve retired from face-pace running at short distances (5K, 10k, half-marathon, marathon, and even 50K).

With consistent training and long races I experienced a record year for me in miles, with 4,564 miles, far more than my previous best of 3,943 in 2011, one of my best years.  With new responsibilities at work in 2015, I found it more difficult to find time and motivation to do a lot of mid-week training and instead concentrated on very long Saturday runs, always taking off Sundays.  I probably averaged running less than three days a week.  I added many power-walks from the train station to work and back several times a week. continue reading…

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To close out 2015, I again ran in Across the Years (ATY), a fixed-time race held in Glendale, Arizona at Camelback Ranch, the spring training facility for the Los Angeles Dodgers and the Chicago White Sox. Last year, after completing a 24-hour race there, I noticed that I was just 132.24 miles short of earning my 1,000 mile ATY jacket. I groaned, knowing that if I wanted it in one more year that I would need to enter the 48-hour race this year.  Running for that long has been tough on me and I’ve come away injured after piling up miles before. But after an injury-free year, and solid training, I decided to go ahead and enter the 48-hour race.

At ATY, there are four different races, running concurrently, 24-hours, 48-hours, and 72-hours and an incredible six-day race.  The objective is to run as many miles as you can during your time period.  You can rest all you want, but the clock is always ticking.  Many ultrarunner friends turn their noses up to these fixed-time races, running in circles for hours and hours.  But to do well in these type of races requires mental strength and solid training, that for me transfers over to doing well in mountain 100-mile races.

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“Why drive if you can run?”

I am currently training for Across the Years, a fixed-time race on Dec 28th where you try to run as many miles as you can during a fixed period of time.  I entered the 48-hour race again this year.  For me, effective training leading into the race involves high mileage on mostly flat terrain.  Treadmill miles also helps, increasing foot speed.

So, my challenge is to keep motivation up and boredom down doing this training. I recently bought a good incline treadmill which is more convenient that using our neighborhood rec center with poor treadmills that seem to always break down often.  I’ve also grown weary of reactions as people come in, seeing me on “their treadmill.”

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As weather gets poor another option I’ve used recently is to run at the Olympic Oval in Kearns, Utah.  That is the site of the 2002 Olympics speed skating events. There is a 442 meter running track around it. One day recently I ran 140 laps for nearly 39 miles in about seven hours. It was cool watching the USA teams train, including speed skating (with gold medalist Shani Davis) and short track teams. Some China team members also were training there. I mostly had the entire track to myself during that time.

This weekend, we had our annual extended family Christmas Party at 12:30 p.m. on Saturday in Midway, Utah (near Park City).   Wanting to still have a long run to finish off the week, my son-in-law joked that I should just run to the party.  To me, it wasn’t a crazy suggestion.  I looked at the route options and discovered it would be about 41 miles along familiar roads and trails.  It didn’t take long for me to decide I would do it. continue reading…

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Utah Lake is the largest freshwater lake in Utah.  Many rivers, streams, and creeks flow into it and there is only one outlet near my home, the Jordan River.   It is 12 miles across at its widest point and about 21 miles long, with an additional seven miles of soggy farm land near its inlet.  Archaeology finds indicate that there have been settlements near the lake and river as far back as 3,000 years.  Mormon settlers established the first modern settlement in 1849. In the 1800s the fish in the lake was overharvested and restocked with non-native species.  Pollution has been a problem over the years as raw sewage was dumped into the lake as late as 1967.  Some pollution problems still remain.  The lake is very shallow with the maximum depth about 14 feet with the average about 10 feet deep.

Each year hundreds of cyclists ride all the way around Utah Lake using a 100-mile route for a “century” ride.  There is no established trail that runs near the shores of the lake, so roads are used.  Most of the route around the lake is rural farm land with the exception of about ten miles on the east side through the Provo-Orem metropolitan area.

In 2013 I got the idea of running all the way around Utah Lake in a day and was the first to accomplish that on November 15, 2013, using a route of about 82 miles. See video of that adventure.

This year I was anxious to repeat the long adventure.  I had recently signed up for Across the Years 48-hour run (Dec 28th) and needed some good, long, flat training.  I chose December 5th to run around the lake again.  I knew it would be colder.  In 2013 I cut out a couple miles by running on railroad tracks in certain sections, but I knew I shouldn’t do that, so this time I chose a route that would be about 84 miles.  The west side of the lake is pretty straight-forward with only one road to take you south, but on the east side with all the roads and towns, you can choose various routes.  This time I let Google Maps decide much of it but still included a mile of trail that hugs the lake at its widest point to avoid a bunch of urban roads and stay on the lake side of I-15. continue reading…

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Nine years ago, in 2006, I accomplished a quad crossing of the Grand Canyon (R2R2R2R2R).  This has only been accomplished by six runners and no one has accomplished it twice.  I was interested in trying to do it again.  The total distance is about 88 miles and involves about 25,000 feet of climbing along the way.

It had been two years since I had run in the canyon.  I typically enjoy running there on Thanksgiving weekend when temperatures are cool (and some years it is pretty frigid).  But for this long run I decided to go a week earlier when it would be a bit warmer.

After staying overnight in Kanab, I headed to the North Rim.  As I drove through the meadows near the park entrance the temperature dipped to 16 degrees but at the trailhead it was a “warmer” 23 degrees.  I made my preparations, and was on that trail at 6:03 a.m., running down the very familiar trail in the dark. This was my 31st time on the North Kaibab trail (going in either direction) so I knew every section and turn very well.  There was some slick snow/ice for the first mile but nothing dangerous because that section doesn’t have cliffs to the side.  I did trip and fall three times during that first couple miles but the falls were minor.  I was frustrated that as I get older, my balance and skill seems to be decreasing, but as dawn arrived, the increased light helped. continue reading…

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The Javelina Jundred was run on Jalloween this year.  This desert 100-mile race is run in McDowell Mountain Park near Fountain Hills, Arizona, at the base of the McDowell Mountains. The course is a loop format that runs on the 15.3-mile single-track Pemberton Trail.   We would have to run six loops in alternating directions and then run a shorter loop to bring the distance up to about 101 miles.

I have a love/hate relationship with this race.  I ran it for the first time in 2009, finishing pretty good with a time of 23:47.  However, in 2012, I returned and my race fell apart because of the heat and I quit after 100K with a slow time of 19:37, more than three hours slower at that point than my first year.  After the poor experience that year, I vowed to never return again. continue reading…

Kodiak 100

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I ran Kodiak 100 which is in the San Bernardino Mountains at Big Bear Lake, California.  This was the third year for the race that by name makes you think it is run in Alaska.  I don’t know why this race is called Kodiak, perhaps because grizzly bear cousins of the Kodiak bear were once found in these mountains.   With all the 100-milers I have run, this would be my very first time running a 100-miler in California.

Two weeks earlier, I had a poor race at Wasatch 100 and dropped out at about mile 75.  The unusual heat affected me poorly and I was sick for the next few days from heat induced difficulties.  I realized that pulling the plug on that race was the right thing for me, but I was anxious to make amends and get my next finish soon, so I signed up for Kodiak 100 just a few days before the race.

I would classify this 100-mile course as one of the easier mountain 100-milers.  It has about 16,000 feet of climbing along the way and is run most of the way above 7,000 feet.  It has two steep climbs of about 3,000 feet and one of 2,000 feet.  What keeps its difficulty down are the miles of dirt roads and quite a few miles of pavement thrown in.  The finishing rate was only about 62%, pretty low, but fairly typical for newer races that attract newer ultrarunners.  Tahoe Rim Trail 100 to the north has a similar difficulty level to this 100. continue reading…