Sunday, December 30, 2007
For 2008, I'm feeling the need to train specifically for my anchor race (the Western States 100) for the first half of the year, and leave the second half of the year flexible. I think that will give me a good checkpoint to look at where I'm at in various Series points rankings, take into account that I might need a break, or want to do some tri's as a change of pace. I've also tried to leave some space in for other races that might pop up.
Here's my tentative schedule for 2008:
1/13 - Angel Island 25k, Marin, CA - This should be a great setting for pictures and a fun way to kick off the new year. I will still be in my "aerobic phase" of my training, but variety is always good. I can also put some points on the board for the new Pacific Coast Trail Runs (PCTR) Race Series, which looks like a lot of fun. The Pacifica 50k on 1/19 is also a lot of fun - if my schedule (and wife) permits, than maybe that one too.
2/2 - Woodside 50k, Woodside, CA - My hometown course, and I have serious bridesmaid karma on this one (three second place finishes in three tries). Perhaps I can break my streak!
3/8 - Way Too Cool 50k, Cool, CA - One of the classics, and shares some trail with the Western States 100. I should be about a month into my speed training, so this will be a good checkpoint race. It will be good to catch up with everyone too. It's also a points race for the PA/USATF Series (not posted yet, but will be here), which I hope to be focusing on for the year. My last year as an under-40 runner...yikes! And I don't mean "yikes I'm getting old", I mean "yikes those 40-year olds are much faster". ;-)
3/22 - Rucky Chucky 50k, Foresthill, CA - I was pleased to see the Rucky Chucky back for 2008, and enjoyed running it in 2005. This race will give me a chance to cover that section of the Western States trail and know it intimately. ;-) This is also the first race in the 2008 Fuel Belt Ultrarunner. Net Series, which was a lot of fun last year.
4/12 - Diablo 50m, Diablo, CA - What better prep for the WS100 than 13,000+ vertical feet in the blazing sun? This race seemed to work as good training grounds for the likes of Jasper Halekas, Bev Abbs, Caren Spore and others for their summer 100's, plus I have some unfinished business on that mountain that I would like to put to rest. This race should be a good checkpoint to see where my weaknesses are, while still having enough time to adjust the training before WS100.
4/21 - Boston Marathon, Boston, MA - Why? Why not! I love this race, and have the lucky excuse that work takes me there every April. I plan to run it for fun, drink the beer at Heartbreak, get a kiss from the Wellesley girls, etc, etc, plus enjoy a day of watching America's finest female runners at the Women's US Olympic Trials. Race costume optional on both days. ;-)
5/3 - Miwok 100k, Marin, CA - A gorgeous race, and good training for WS100. I'm excited to go back and get more pics! I'm not going to run it super hard, but it will kick off a month of very long runs/races as the peak of my training. Another race for the PA/USATF Series as well.
5/10 - Quicksilver 50m, Almaden, CA - I did the 50k last year, and it was full of hills and heat. Ill take a tip from Graham Cooper and Jeff Riley (top ten finishers at WS100 last year) who did this as part of their States training last year. My legs should be tired from Miwok, so we'll see how I hold up.
5/18 - Ohlone 50k, Livermore, CA - An optional race if I have any legs left after the last two weekends. Heat and hills, and plenty of good pics. Ohlone might even be a fun one to hike!
5/25 - Western States Training Run, Auburn, CA - I plan to do the first training day of the weekend to cover the two tough climbs on the WS100 trail.
6/14 - Santa Cruz 50k, Santa Cruz, CA - One last 50k in the coastal redwoods before beginning my taper. Also in the PCTR Series.
6/28 - Western States 100, Auburn, CA - The anchor race for the year. OMG! It freaks me out just to write it down. My goal is sub-24 hour, but honestly I would be honored just to finish it.
At this point in the season, I'm planning to take a few weeks off and see where my head and heart is at, as well as where I'm at in the various Series competition. If I'm doing well in the PA/USATF Series, than the Headlands 50k and Whiskeytown 50k could be new and fun. The Ultrarunner.net Series would steer me more towards the Sierra Nevada Double Marathon (which would be good to do right for once) and Lake of the Sky, which I loved last year. It I have another 100 in me, then maybe Rio del Lago or the Headlands 100, or try a 24-Hour Race. Or perhaps I will be ready to hit the bike, and do the Donner Lake Tri, Vineman, and/or some centuries. One thing for sure, I will probably make it back to the Helen Klein 50m, which is a points race for both the PA/USATF and Ultrarunner.net Series. And this year, Thanksgiving will likely be at home, so the Quad Dipsea will be back on the schedule.
Whew! I better get crackin' on the training! Let me know if any of you are going to be at these races. I look forward to seeing you there!
Cheers and happy new year, SD
Wednesday, December 26, 2007
1. Most memorable moment on the trails. Boy, that's a tough one. I've had some incredible highs (like crossing the finish at my first hundred at the Tahoe Rim Trail 100) and some devastating lows (the emotional blow up at the Diablo 50k), and each memory is permanently etched into my soul. I guess if I would have to pick a single moment, it would be when I fell at mile 96 at the Tahoe Rim Trail 100. I felt every emotion I knew all at one time, my body was in pain, and I thought for sure I was going to DNF. But the calm serenity of the night sky above Lake Tahoe brought me back to reality, and the headlights of other runners reminded me we were all suffering in some way. I ended up taking it one step at a time, and with the help of my Dad, found the finish line. In that moment on the hill, I was convinced that we all have an endless supply of will and courage, you just have to dig deep enough to find it.
2. Best new trail discovered in 2007. That would have to be the stretch of the Tahoe Rim Trail where the Lake of the Sky 33m is held. All this time it was a short drive from my usual Tahoe running spots, but I didn't know it was so beautiful! A wonderful and challenging stretch packed with views that I have been back to twice already.
3. My best performance of 2007. I think that would be the Silver State 50m. It was not only a fast time for me, but I've never felt so good at the end of a 50-miler. I was also really pleased with the pictures which is good blogging karma. ;-)
4. I don't know how I previously survived without...gaiters! I have never really used them before this season, and it didn't take long to see why everybody uses them. Duh.
5. The person I would most like to meet on the trails in 2008. Well, I hope to see a lot of you guys in 2008! But if I could chose just one, it would be Debra Weil, who is making a wonderful recovery from her bike-vs-car accident this Spring (read it here, particularly the comments). I hope to someday see her walking/running the trails and finding a new passion to fill in for cycling.
6. The race I am most excited about for 2008. No surprise, I'm super excited about running the Western States 100 in 2008. It's going to have some big challenge for me - distance, heat, etc. - and I think sub-24 is a reasonable goal. It's actually forced me to schedule a year of "training" instead of racing everything in sight. It should be great!
This is a wonderful time of year for reflection, and for planning the next race season. One of my favorite parts of blogging is being able to go back and relive each adventure, as well as peruse my favorites on other blogs. Here's my Cliff Notes version, should you need some reading:
- Pacifica 50k, 1/20 - Face planting on rocks can be a form of motivation.
- Napa Marathon, 3/4 - Marathon PR from trying (emphasis on the word "try") to keep up with Devon Crosby-Helms.
- Pony Express 100k, 3/31 - 57 laps to salvation/insanity.
- Boston Marathon, 4/16 - Storm be damned, I'm going to drink my beer at mile 20.
- Big Sur Marathon, 4/29 - Birthday run on Hwy 1.
- Quicksilver 50k, 5/12 - Good friends make for an effortless race.
- Silver State 50m, 5/20 - Breakthrough performance in the mountains of Nevada.
- Bay To Breakers, 5/21 - Video and naked people... 'nuff said.
- Mt. Diablo 50k, 6/2 - 8 hours of therapy and a whole new respect for the ultra community.
- State Street Mile, 6/10 - Rocky the pug runs a sub-7 mile!
- Pacific Crest 1/2 Iron, 6/23 - The whole family races for fun, and my Mom celebrates the joys of being last.
- The Death Ride, 7/14 - Learning to group ride through 129 miles in the Sierras.
- Tahoe Rim Trail 100m, 7/21 - My first 100, and the reason I'm hooked on more.
- Sierra Nevada Dbl Mrthn, 9/22 - Guess what happens when you miss the turnaround on an out and back course? Doh!
- Running of the Bulls 5k, 10/7 - We should all run in costume at least once a year.
- Lake of the Sky 33m, 10/13 - A perfect Fall day in Tahoe.
- Helen Klein 50m, 11/3 - Go out hard, blow up hard.
- Santa Barbara 9 Trails, 11/24 - My quads burn through 10k vertical feet.
Hope you are all having a great holiday!
Oops, almost forgot to tag three bloggers! The following can consider themselves "tagged" and can answer the six quick questions on your blog:
Wednesday, December 19, 2007
Do note I'm throwing in some upper body work at the end. ;-)
I hope y'all are having a great week!
Tuesday, December 18, 2007
As was the case last year, proceeds from the calendar will go to the Washington Trails Association, a non-profit that creates and maintains trails in the State of Washington. Buy three of more calendars from ZombieRunner, and you can even get a free pair of Dirty Girl gaiters!
You can click to the order page here.
Wednesday, December 12, 2007
Uli started his running career as a teenager in the Bavarian city of Erlenbach, Germany, with top finishes at junior cross country meets (5th place German junior championships, 113th World junior XC championships) and a win at the junior's race of the Mountain Running World Trophy in Zermatt, Switzerland, all in 1991. All this led to a full tuition track scholarship at the (NCAA DI) University of Portland. In the fall of 1992, 2 months before leaving for Portland, he entered his first marathon in Frankfurt (2:25:14). At UP, he was a 6-time NCAA qualifier (12th, 9th and 10th in the 10,000m and 49th, 35th and 16th in cross country). After collegiate competition he continued to run track and cross, but also ventured into marathons, including a 2:17:21 at the Portland Marathon, a course record that still stands. His track and road PRs are as follows:
800m 1:56:03 (1994)
1500m 3:49.61 (1994)
mile 4:12 (indoor, '94 or '95)
3000m 8:03.02 (1998)
5000m 14:04.81 (1995 & 1998)
10000m 28:50.14 (2000)
1/2 mara 65:58 (2005)
marathon 2:13:56 (2000)
As fast as Uli was on the track and roads, few could have predicted the impact he would soon have on the ultra community. Course records fell regularly as he won the Chuckanut 50k in 2002 (3:57, CR) and 2005 (3:43, CR), 2003 Way Too Cool 50k (3:19, CR), White River 50m National Championship 2003 (6:37, CR) and 2004 (6:32, CR), Sunmart 50k 2004 (3:11, CR) and 2005 (3:07:47, CR), 2006 American River 50m (5:58), and the 2007 North Face Seattle 50m (8:17, CR). If you find yourself in an ultra with Uli, you are likely racing for 2nd (unless your name is Matt Carpenter).
Uli recently added $10k to his bank account by winning the 2007 North Face Endurance Challenge San Francisco 50-mile, the largest purse in ultramarathon in the US. I caught up with him over e-mail to find out about the race and his plans for 2008.
Scott: First, congratulations on your finish at the Endurance Challenge! I read your write up, and it sounds like your course preparation paid off. Can you summarize how the race went for you?
Uli: The very short version is that the first 18 miles were comfortable, the next 26 miles were a hard-fought dual between Matt and I, and the last 6 miles were still physically hard but mentally easy as Matt had dropped back with quad issues. I did travel to San Francisco to preview the course 2 1/2 weeks earlier, and it really paid off as some sections were not well marked and / or some markers were (re-)moved intentionally by someone.
Scott: I understand that Scott Jurek played a part in getting you into ultras. How did that come about?
Uli: In 2000, Scott Jurek won his first of 7 WS 100 titles, and a feature article in Northwest Runner about Scott talked about how he would run up Mt Si three times in a single run, faster than anyone else could do it. No way, I thought! I ran up to the Seattle Running Company where Scott worked at the time and 2 weeks later we were doing a "double Granite Mountain" - for a total of 16 miles and 8000ft of climbing (and descending). I was going to "show this ultra guy what real speed is" and he was going to "show this road runner that speed doesn't mean anything in the mountains". On the second climb I pulled away by about a minute from Scott, and on the last mile of the decent he pulled about a minute away from me. So we both came away from this run with mutual respect for each other and many long training runs together followed.
Scott: I had read that you went to Kenya this year for training in the marathon distance, as part of an intense focus on running and away from your teaching career. Can you tell us a bit about that?
Uli: I did teach 2 years of HS chemistry at Edmonds-Woodway HS from 2004-2006. However, this took so much time that my training was reduced to that of a weekend warrior. I had to make a choice: Do I want to focus on my career or continue to run at an elite level? The decision was aided by 2 things:
My wife Trisha got hired as the head XC and track coach at Seattle University (and a decent jump in salary compared to her previous job), and the fact that my HS principal was a jerk.
My kick-ass wife told me that she though there were a lot more things I could accomplish in the running world, and that years from now I might look back and wonder "What if?" if I decide to quit competitive running.
So we made the decision that I would do three things:
2) help her with coaching, recruiting, travel planing, paperwork, etc
3) substitute teach when it works with #1 and #2
Going to Kenya was part of that. Stephen Kiprotich, who we met at the Vancouver Marathon 2005, had invited us to visit him in Kenya. So in December of 2006 we did. For most of the time we stayed at a training camp in Kaptagat, about 20 miles from Eldoret, at 8000 ft. It wasn't one of those training camps for western runners but one where usually only Kenyans train. No running water, no internet, no laundery, no electric stove. And almost every evening ugali for dinner. Kenyans ALWAYS start out easy on every run. When they run easy, they run really slow, like 8:00 - 10:00 minute / mile pace. When they run fast I wasn't able to stay with them for very long. It was a great cultural experience and we also came back in much better shape. We'll probably go back next year.
Scott: It sounds like you are focused primarily on the marathon, but are still throwing in ultra distances. How does your preparation change when focusing on an ultra?
Uli: For me, the training isn't that much different. I have done 40 mile pavement runs as part of my marathon training before, as well as 5 - 7 hour runs with Scott on the trails. In preparation for the Northface 50 miler I did _more_ long runs and less speedwork than what I would do for a marathon.
Scott: Your Web page generously shares your workout logs for the last few years. My first take after glancing through it was there was a substantial amount of long, aerobic-paced runs. Would you consider these the most important part of your training?
Uli: When I'm training for a marathon I usually do one speedwork (5x mile or 20 x 400 or 8 x 1000), one tempo run (e.g. 15 miles at 5:12 pace), and one long run (2:00 - 3:00 hours) per week. Mileage is certainly important, but it's not everything. On the other hand, too much speedwork makes you tired for the race.
Scott: How many marathons have you run?
Uli: 30 - 35. 13 of them under 2:20. Portland, Pyongyang, Vancouver (4x), Berlin (2x), Toronto, Austin, NYC, Boston, Duesseldorf.
Scott: I once read that you eat "real food" on the longer ultras, like hazelnut strudel. Can you tell us a bit about how you hydrate and eat, both for marathons and ultras?
Uli: Unfortunately, the German bakery that made the hazelnut strudel went out of business. Guess I didn't eat enough! :) On training runs I can eat almost anything. Sometimes I eat a 1200 calorie granola muesli 30 min before the run, and salami & cream-cheese bagels on the run. On "shorter" runs I usually go with one or 2 Carbooms. At the Northface 50 race I ate about 7 or 8 Carbooms, 3 home-made muffins and drank about 2/3 strength Gatorade. In marathons I usually eat one or 2 Carbooms and drink 2/3 strength Gatorade. The amount really depends on the weather.
Scott: Your wife, Trisha, is also an accomplished runner (they respectively won the Men's and Women's Overall at the Seattle Marathon in 2006). What's it like having two elite runners in the same household? Any chance she will be joining you in ultras?
Uli: Actually, Trish has run 3 ultras already. She finished second to Nikki Kimball at the 2003 White River 50 in her first 50-mile race, followed by a second place and a win at the Chuckanut 50k. However, to me her most impressive ultra performance came on a 7 hour training run with Scott and me. I had gone on a few long runs with Scott earlier in the spring when Trish said she wanted to come as well. I was a little skeptical as she had not done anything longer than 3 hours all year. We did a Cougar - Squak - Tiger - Squak - Cougar combination with about 8000ft of climbing at a decent pace. When Scott dropped it to close to 6:00 min pace on the last, flat mile Trish just stubbornly hung on all the way to the end.
Right now Trish has other running priorities than ultras. But she'll run another one eventually.
Scott: I recently signed up for the Way Too Cool 50k and saw your 3:18 course record - I thought it had to be a misprint! Would you consider that your strongest ultra performance?
Uli: No, the 3:18:17 is not a misprint. I was in very good shape then, the trail was in superb shape after 3 weeks with no rain, the weather was great. I wanted to break the record (which I thought was necessary to win given Dave Mackey was running) and I didn't know the course. It turned out that the course was shorter than I anticipated, so I broke the record by a large margin (13 min). Especially the last "1.7" miles (including the rather significant climb after Hwy 49 crossing) in 9:00 minutes? I don't think so. Even if Greg (Soderlund) doesn't want to hear it, Way Too Cool is short. Maybe a mile or two.
I did beat Mackey by 18 and Scott Jurek by 23 minutes that day. I recall Ian Torrence arguing with some guys from Colorado about the pre-race predictions. The Colorado folks were telling him that they think Dave Mackey would win. Ian said something like: "I've run with Uli. He's here. He's running. End of discussion." I myself didn't have that much confidence in me, but I also never raced against Mackey before, and Ian had.
Scott: What inspires you to run and train?
Uli: I love running - most of the time. I don't always love training, though. But I know the next race will come and the competition doesn't rest. So I guess the competitive part of me is what keeps me going every day. Running on the Wonderland trail near Mt. Rainier in the summer is something that inspires me.
Scott: What motivates you to race?
There are 3 primary reasons:
1) for time: to see how fast I can run
2) for place: in order to win or finsh as high as I can
3) for money: part of the reason Trish supported me quitting my full-time job was because I would likely win prize money in some races, partly offsetting the loss of income form quitting my full-time job.
A lot of the time it's a combination of the 3 reasons. e.g. at the Northface 50 both Matt and I (and presumably a few others) decided to run because there was $10,000 on the line. That, in turn, brought the level of competition to a whole new level. The finish time was secondary, though in the end I pushed it to stay under 7:00 hours. Reasons 1 and 2 would be enough for me to race, but prize money makes it possible for me to afford to travel to far-away races and run against really good competition. e.g. I ran Chuckanut 50 3 times, and there is no prize money. But I wouldn't have flown to Sunmart (Tx) if they had no prize money.
Scott: What do you enjoy the most about trail running and ultras?
Uli: The scenery is different at each one. White River and the Northface San Francisco are probably the most beautiful courses I've run on. Sunmart probably was the least scenic course. But I like the variety. What has been great at every ultra are the people. The runners, the volunteers, the spectators. 99% of ultra runners are just genuinely nice people.
Scott: Do you think we will see you in the 100-mile distance sometime soon?
Uli: No. But I'm not ruling it out sometime in the future.
Scott: What are your plans for 2008 and 2009? Will we see you tackling more ultras?
Uli: That all depends on how my spring marathon goes. If I do run under 2:13, which I think is rather unlikely, then I'll run another marathon in Beijing in August. If not, there is a good chance I'll run another ultra that summer. I any case, there is a good chance I'll run the Northface race again in December. In 2009 the IAAF world championships are in Berlin, and I definitely want to make the German team again in the marathon. I mean, how much better can it get than representing your native country "at home"? I used the quotation marks since I now consider the US more "home" than Germany. I'm a permanent resident here, I'm married here, and I've been here continously (except for visits) since 1993.
Best of luck with your training, Uli, and thank you for the interview! - SD
Monday, December 10, 2007
2008 MUT Championships
March 2 – USA 50 km Championship
Caumsett State Park 50 km
April 12 – USA 100 km Championship
Mad City 100 km
June 8 - USA Trail Marathon Championship (pending)
Deadwood-Michelson Trail Marathon
June 21 – USA Mountain Running Championship
Mt. Washington Road Race
June 29 – USA 10 km Trail Championship
Steamboat Springs, CO
July 19 – USA 100 Mile Trail Championship
Tahoe Rim 100 Mile Trail Run
Lake Tahoe, NV
July 26 – USA 50 Mile Trail Championship
White River 50 Mile Trail Run
Crystal Mountain, WA
August 16 – USA 100 km Trail Championship
Where’s Waldo 100 km Trail Run
Waldo Lake, OR
October 11 – USA 50 Mile Championship
Tussey Mountainback 50 Miler
Sunday, December 09, 2007
I'm personally hoping that some of the fast folks who weren't able to pull a Western States 100 lottery slot this year (that means you, Jasper Halekas, Jon Olsen, Anton Krupicka, and Karl Meltzer) are signed up and ready to get a slot via top 3 finish a Montrail Ultra Cup qualifier. Check the blogs and comments of Anton and Karl to see some of the frustration/conversation among the elites who didn't get in. I've never been so happy to be a two-time loser. ;-)
My 2008 season is slowly shaping (WTC, Boston Marathon, WS100) and I'm already getting giddy for the training! Such a challenge to stay aerobic in my December runs with all the excitement.
For your reading pleasure, some great recent blog interviews:
Tim Tweitmeyer on his Tahoe Rim Trail Record (courtesy of Peter Lubbers)
Michael Kanning, 15-year-old Ultra Phenom (courtesy of Tony Overbay)
Wednesday, December 05, 2007
One of my favorite quotes was his recount of DNF'ing at the Leadville 100:
Will’s previous race took place eight months earlier at the Leadville Trail 100, a traverse through the Colorado Rockies between 9,200 and 12,600 feet. Typically, about half the entrants finish. At mile 23, Will sprained his ankle on a rock. Fifty miles later, it took him six hours to trudge 10 miles on his swollen ankle, as he limped from tree to tree. “It was the middle of the night, and someone tried to encourage me by saying, ‘Good job!’” he remembered. “I wanted to say, ‘F--- you, I’m holding onto a tree.’”Indeed! You can read the whole story here.
Monday, December 03, 2007
If you see your face, you are more than welcome to the photo - just right click and save!
Sunday, December 02, 2007
1. Uli Steidl (6:57:22)
2. Matt Carpenter (7:10:10)
3. Leigh Schmitt (7:51:06)
1. Lizzy Walker (7:59:55)
2. Jenn Shelton (8:22:19)
3. Bev Anderson-Abbs (8:25:24)
Uli Steidl and Matt Carpenter raced toe-to-toe for 44 miles, before Steidl pulled away to win in 6:57. Matt finished about 13 minutes behind, with Leigh Schmitt (who won the August North Face Endurance Challenge event in DC) about 30 minutes later. Lizzy Walker won by a good margin, despite the fact that she flew in from the UK just a few nights earlier and fell early in the race (the first aid crew recommended she go to the hospital to have her wounds cleaned). She powered on for the win, and is doing well. Phenom Jenn Shelton took second, while Bev Abbs was strong and consistent to take third place .
Official results are posted here.
BTW, congrats to those who got in the Western States 100 lottery! It looks like it's going to be a competitive race, with folks like Chikara Omine, Michael Buchanan, Sean Meissner, Devon Crosby-Helms. Brian Morrison, and Scott Wolfe joining the usual super-fast crew returning from last year. For those who didn't make it in and are looking for another 100, the Tahoe Rim Trail 100m (July 19) opened registration today!