Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Did that just happen?

I will definitely be filing this under “did that just happen”!

As I mentioned in the Nine Trails Race Report I was wearing my Garmin Vivofit. It’s a funky little device but I really like it. You may think hang on he runs all these miles why does he need a Vivofit to count his steps? That’s a good question! The main reason for getting it was that I do have a pretty sedentary job, I sit at a desk or in meetings for a fair bit or my day. It’s also bookended with 55 mile each way commute. The reason I love it is that it reminds me to get up and walk around a bit every hour or so, the red bar is a reminder of inactivity, initially an hour and then in 15 minutes increments.

Garmin has since released Version 2 which is a bit niftier and also the Vivosmart which has more bells and whistles…not literally as that would be awkward on your wrist!

As always Ray over at DCRainmaker has written very through reviews on all these devices Vivofit 1, Vivoft 2 and Vivosmart.

Anyway as you would expect my step count from Nine Trails was a little high…actually it was very high, by the end of the day when I took this photo I had lots and lots and lots of steps!

Being the social media maven I posted a photo to Instagram and tagged Garmin Fitness asking then would the digit count rollover? They replied overnight asking if they could repost the photo on their account, I said of course!


One thing led to another and after some email back and forward over a few days I received this email from Garmin!


Speechless didn’t quite describe it but suffice to say I was doing my happy dance!

I expect to see the “rollover” in a couple of weeks!

Monday, March 30, 2015

Santa Barbara Nine Trails 35 Mile Run

I am little late in writing this report but here goes…

Details; Distance: 35 miles. Elevation gain: 11,066’ Elevation Loss: 11,037’

  • Garmin Connect File is here
  • Strava file is here

The Santa Barbara Nine Trail 35 Mile Run is located about an hour’s drive North from home so Becca and I opted to stay at home and have an early start of leaving the house around 4am to get there in time for the 5am check in and 6am start. We managed that and were even able to stop of at a gas station to avail ourselves of the facilities, coffee will do that to you!


Check in was uneventful and low key, in the end there were 56 runners who started and 8 who didn’t, it’s not a big race for a reason. After taking “roll call” we were ready. There was some discussion about where to actually start and with a general consensus of “here’s good” we all took a vow not to do anything stupid. With that it was time to turn on my head-torch and we were off.


Before I get into the race report a word on logistics.

  • I had divided the race up in my mind and in the planning into four quarters. The route was strictly an out and back and so the quarters were the Aid Station at Gibraltar Rock, the turn-around at Romero Canyon and finally the return back through Gibraltar Rock on the way to the start. The geography and route lent itself to this and each quarter was going to be around 8 miles.
  • To that end I had created ZipLoc bags which were a full replen of everything that I needed every 8 miles and with Becca driving between the locations I could just empty my pockets and grab and a bag and go.
  • Each bag contained; 2 Quick Crusts, 2 Banana bread portions, 2 PowerBar or HappyTot smoothies, 4 serving of Skratch Lemon and Lime, roughly 980 calories. Each 8 mile section would take 2.5 – 3 hours so roughly 300 calories per hour of more or less real food.
  • I wore my Ultimate Direction Wasp Pack full of ice/water and carried a UD Fastdraw Handheld that I would top up with water from my pack and add the Skratch too, this keeps my pack bladder clean. I also carried some Chapstick, Bodyglide, ibruprofen, SCaps AND Ricola lozengers…oh and some TP, ‘cos well you know I like my socks!
  • I was wearing Saucony Inferno shorts and matching Tshirt; the shorts are short and I like that. On my feet I wore Saucony Peregrine 5 shoes. On my head my Headsweats Loudmouth Trucker cap and a pair of Oakley sunnies and my head-torch was a Peztl RXP.
  • I also had my trusty Garmin 910xt and was wearing Becca’s 920xt which was Live Tracking my race during the day. I also had my Garmin Vivofit

Ok now on with show!

The first couple of miles along the Jesusita Trail roll along following and crossing a creek, you then start climbing up to Inspiration Point. It was dark for most of the climb and so people were being fairly easy at least where I was…at the back. It was an easy pace, run where you can and fast-walk the rest. I just tucked myself in and followed the feet in front of me. This is a section that I had run twice before so it was very familiar I got to the top, about 3.5 miles, in 55 minutes. This was definitely faster than previously. Unlike before there was no stopping to admire the view. It was straight down the other side following Tunnel Trail. This was pretty uneventful is easily runnable. I was bowling along nicely without any issues.


I followed Ann for the first 8 miles…she’s a total badass and training for UTMB!

At the bottom of Tunnel Trail you pick up a short connector which winds its way up. Finally you join “Rattlesnake”, named for its shape that takes you around the Rattlesnake Canyon Park and you climb out of the canyon onto Gibraltar Road. It was a pretty steep climb but there was three of us in a small group chatting when we could and that made the time and miles go by. From here you run down the road for a mile and then drop into Cold Springs Trail. Becca met me on the road and we ran down. At the car and Aid Station I was about 8.5 miles in and was feeling great. We had started in the dark and it had been cold. A lot of the running so far was in the shade and it was perfect. I got to the car in 2:24, about 5 minutes ahead of my best case schedule and 35 ahead of my worst. I filled up again, emptied the crap out of my shoes and was off.

The next 2 miles was straight down and I dropped 1000’ into the bottom of the canyon. There I crossed a stream and started the long series of ups and downs that made up the middle half.


At the top of Cold Spring Trail…runable rocks!

I knew from running it the week prior that this was going to be hard, while the climbs weren’t long, they were steep, and the well named section called The Wall averages only 16% but some parts of it were at 40%. This 17ish mile section accumulates over 6000’ of gain. The temperature was warming up but it was nothing major at this point. Around mile 14 I saw the race leader who was at that point 8 miles ahead of me…yeah 8 miles! Finally I rolled into the second Aid Station and the turnaround.


Coming in Romero Canyon Trailhead and happy to be there! Photo credit Michelle Evans

Becca was there all smiley…she was having a blast! Again I filled my pack up with Ice and grabed my lunch bag. I was 17.5 miles in and had 4:50 on the clock. So far so good.


Halfway refill and we’re off again!

I had no illusions of negative splits, the sun was getting higher as was the mercury. The climbing out of the canyons was hot and hard. Some folks say the day topped off in the early 90s! I wound my way back and was very happy to see Becca and her new friend Nancy pop out of nowhere carrying ice. I refilled as best I could I headed back to Gibraltar Road. I was playing cat and mouse with a few other runners but as always with ultras the runners are spread out so thin that you can go for hours without seeing anyone!


The Ice Maidens…this way or that?!?

I climbed the 1000’ out of the canyon, much of this was in the shade so the temperature was manageable. My plan of carrying water and then refilling my bottle was working really well and there was never any moment when I was out or even low on water. The solid food was working well although the Quick Crusts I found to be a bit dry. The bread pudding was very moist and was very easy to swallow.

At the Aid Station I plonked myself down in the shade and was handed an Otter Pop…yummy! Then an ice cold towel…even better! I cooled down and Becca filled up my pack and bottle. There were a couple of other runners who were suffering.


Hot and hilly, Otter pop and cold towel for the win!!

They left before me but I would catch a couple of them up during the last 8 miles. Becca walked most of the way with me along the road to the next trail section and here I dropped back down into the canyon. The penultimate climb out truly sucked. Hands on knees in the baking sun sucked. One guy about 100 yards in front and one behind me were struggling just as much. It felt like it went on forever, in reality it was six tenths of a mile and lasted 35 minutes!

IMG_4279 The line just below the horizon is the road…suckage up and down!

At the top I was treated to a mile and a half of rocks to scramble down…more suckage! Finally at the bottom I caught a small group of runners who were all pretty much flat out, issues varied from overheating, a twisted ankle and the ever popular drank too much water too soon and threw up. I filled up a bottle said thanks and bye and was outta there…a great opportunity to claim back a few places! Tunnel Trail seemed like a paved road and only took 20 minutes to power walk out of. From there it was the 3.5 mile meander down to the start.


Last little hill and we’re done!

In the last mile I swore someone was on my tail and so I picked up the pace as best I could determined not to be passed with less than a mile to go. Becca ran out from the finish and then followed me back for the last quarter mile and finally I emerged onto the road and was done. 11:12.


A little spacey but otherwise ok!

So much went well with this race, my fueling and nutrition were spot on, I was never close to bonking and the Skratch worked a treat. The heat was a factor and a race this early in the year after a reasonably mild winter was going to take its toll. The hills were hard and the race website states that this runs like a tough 50 miler which is a very true way to look at it. I had added plenty of hill training in the first three months of this year, I passed 50,000’ of gain late in March, but the extended climbs that the Front Range of Santa Barbara provide are just not repeated where I live. This reinforces my mantra to “train the terrain”!

Despite a few lows, which is to be expected, there was never any consideration of DNFing. As with most races of this distance and duration it’s about moving forward. Sitting down on the side of the trail does you no good, nobody is coming to get you!


Despite the low keyness of this event it’s well organized and a firm favorite of many local runners. Everyone is super friendly and all in all the day is a total blast…put some hill-work in and you can have a blast too!

Finally a huge thank you to Becca for sherpaing all day…it’s fun but exhausting! She’s my rock and a rock star!


Leona Divide 50m in three weeks!

Sunday, March 29, 2015

SB9T Week 6

Taper week, still shaking off my cough/cold thing so a super easy week, I’ll spare you the details;


That’s it!

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Two Shoes to Two Wheels!

It was after Vineman 70.3 last July that I hung up my bike. Ironically after I crashed on my Tri bike in January the first thing I could do was get on the Trainer. Running hurt and swimming was out of the question until my face healed. St George 70.3 was scratched…again! I covered nearly 3000 miles the bulk of which was completed before Vineman.

The rationale for hanging up the bike was I wanted to go back to something simple. Running seemed like a good place to head and with that I planned out a course to get me to Leona Divide 50 mile race in the following April, next month! Since then I have run 1436 miles, by the time I finish LD50 I will break 1600 miles and will have raced a 25k, a 30k, a Marathon, two 50ks, one 35 mile and one 50 mile race. With that in mind and my legs feeling the mileage I decided to change it up again. Last month I applied to be a Brand Ambassador for Pactimo.

Pactimo makes cycling clothing. Correction they make great cycling clothing. I wrote a review on one of their kits here. It’s the same kit I used for the 6 Hours of Temecula race last June. Late last week I was notified that I had been accepted! WOOT!


So what does this mean for the rest of the year? Well obvioulsy more cycling…a lot more cycling! The first event has me heading to Colorado in June to ride the Pactimo sponsored Golden Gran Fondo.


Other than that I am looking at some other options for Gran Fondos, Century rides, some MTB racing and even Everesting.

Let the next chapter begin!

Monday, March 23, 2015

SB9T Week 5

After last Sunday’s long run I started to feel crappy. I was achy and cold and generally felt like I was coming down with something. I was in bed by 7pm with a hoodie on and thick blanket over me and was shivering. The next day I peaked a temperature of 101f. I was benched. I took Monday off from work and literally spent the entire day in bed. I can’t even begin to remember the last time I did that!

Tuesday I felt a bit better and worked from home, I am super lucky that I can work from home when my meeting schedule allows. Wednesday I was back in the office for a long day and felt pretty crappy. General consensus from my colleagues was I should have stayed at home but I had several important meetings to host that required my in-room presence. Thursday and Friday I worked from home again!

Amid all of this work stuff there was, not surprisingly no running. I was swigging Dayquil, Nyquil and Mucinex like it was on a fire sale and sucking throat lozenges by the handful. With all that said come Saturday morning with the exception of lung twisting coughing episodes I was more or less off the bench

I even managed to get on our new rowing machine Friday night. I had planned for 10,000m and after 3,000m realized how much that was and dropped to 5,000m instead.

Saturday was spent mostly all day at the kid’s Track & Field meet. My long term plan for Sunday had been to get up and get out to Santa Barbara and run the remaining Nine Trails course. This I saw as the “easy” middle half, roughly 17-18 miles from the Gibraltar Road Aid Station to the Romero Canyon Trailhead and back. To be honest information has been a little sparse. This is a storied race that dates back to 1990 but it’s on a new course as fires burned a lot of the old course several years ago. It’s not a race that attract 100’s of runners either due to the overall toughness so Race Reports are pretty hard to come by. I was lucky to find a Strava map, but that took a bit of hunting. As of writing this there are only 56 entrants this year, last year 71 entries with 43 Finishers. That’s a 40% DNF rate in case you were doing the math in your head.

So with all the said I headed to SB to run these miles and put to bed any unknowns about the course. First off I dropped some water at the turnaround, just a couple of bottles. Then got funky directions to the Gibraltar Road AS location which is the start of the Cold Springs Trail. This took me way out of my way and as a result I started nearly an hour behind schedule. Fortunately the weather was co-operating and there was gray flat low cloud all day. From Cold Springs Trail it was roughly 8-9 miles to the turnaround and back. I had run the first 1.5 miles of this with Becca a couple of weeks prior and knew that it was all down. We hadn’t made it to the bottom, this time I would. 1100’ straight down only ever means one thing; up! I wasn’t disappointed. 800’ up followed by 900’ down, 500’ up, 300’ down, 500’ up and 700’ down. This was the turnaround point 8.75 miles, 2:41 in time and lots of climbing behind and ahead of me.


The trails on this section of the race were very different from those that would be the first and last 25% of the race course. You start by dropping into a wooded canyon down Cold Spring Trail. At the bottom you cross the stream and head back up the other side of the canyon. Eventually you pop out onto a saddle and you have a view of the coast. Here you use a connector (left turn for 100 yards then right turn down 200 yards then turn left) to get to the start of the Edison Catwalks. These are so called, it later dawned on me, as they provide access to the Edison Electricity Pylons (power towers). Of course they are minimal signs ranging from the ever useful general “Trail” to rusty cutouts that have Trail name cut into them. These Catwalk trails are fireroads and you basically roll up and down these for 3.5 -4 miles. It’s hard going, there is no flat at all, most of it walking up and an easy careful run down. There is one section called The Wall, it has a 35% grade. At the end of one section the trail then drops into a downhill single-track and here you link up with a sharp left onto the Buena Vista Trail. 17 Switchbacks up and you pop out onto a fireroad which ends in a T junction. Turn right and in a mile you are at the Romero Canyon Trailhead…easy right!

After missing turnings in weeks prior I had done some research on Apps I could put on my phone and had installed one called Topo Maps. At $7.99 it’s most expensive App on my phone but was worth every penny is it had saved me a couple of times on the outbound leg. The downside was that it had drained my iPhone 6 battery down to 40%. I switched my phone to Airplane mode to conserve the rest of the battery and headed back the way I came. These are screenshots from my phone. Money well spent!


Three hours later I was back at the car. Not of course until I had paid my trail dues and face planted on a technical rocky single track section. My Ultimate Direction Handheld broke my fall and I got a refreshing 30oz of Skratch in my face! Two words of thanks, OtterBox, my iPhone was some 6 yards ahead of me and while being a bit muddy was fine! As for this being the “easy” section…erm yeah about that!

At the end I had covered 17.76 miles, 5889’ of gain in 5:42.

So with the exception of a probably less than two miles I have run the entire outbound course one way, and I have covered half the course on the return leg.The first 6-7 miles I have run twice. I have a pretty good understanding of where I have missed so I am feeling confident that I won’t make the same mistakes on race day.

These are the best of the photos from the day, pretty much any trail you can see in the photos I ran out and back on.



So having covered as much of the course as I can my only objective for race day is to finish. UltraSignUp.com has a forecasted time of 10:25, that puts my just below halfway down the field. If that happens I’ll be chuffed! I think realistically based on my experience it’s going to be closer to 11 hours, if it’s hot maybe 12 hours…hopefully not much longer. The last cutoff is at mile 25 at 5pm, that’s 11 hours after the 6am start! Sunset is at 8:11pm!

All that’s left is to try and degunk my lungs over the next week and put in some easy miles and I am all set for Sunday.