June 29, 2011

Race Difficulty - Comparisons of Ultras

I came across this analysis of various races and their relative difficulty from realendurance.com. Very revealing and seems in line from my experience at San Diego and Western States. I'm about to find out about Angeles Crest 100. Three weeks and counting...

Relative Event Finish Time to Western States 100 Mile.

Sample Criteria:

Same individual completed the listed event and one of the following 100 mile run in the SAME YEAR: Western States, Vermont, Leadville, Angeles Creset, Wasatch, Kettle Moraine, Hardrock, Rocky Raccoon, and Mohican.

The relative percentage is first averaged over the samples for each 100 mile reference, then normalized to Western States, then averaged over the nine 100 mile runs listed.
The relative uncertainy of the analysis is porportional to 1/sqrt(sample size).
Dist. Rel to Sample Event Name
 WS100 Size 

135m 157% 133 BadWater Ultra Marathon  
100m 155% 904 Hard Rock 100 Mile   
100m 131% 58 HURT Trail 100 Mile   
100m 117% 3279 Wasatch Front 100 Mile   
100m 113% 45 Mount Rushmore Trail 100 Mile  
100m 113% 115 Bear 100 Mile   
100m 112% 90 Bighorn Mountain Trail Run 
100m 111% 396 Massanutten Mountain Trails 100 Mile
100m 108% 14 Tahoe Rim Trail 100 miles 
100m 108% 2156 Angeles Crest 100 Mile   
100m 107% 12 Grand Teton Races 100m  
100m 106% 79 Superior Sawtooth 100 Mile 
100m 105% 80 Cascade Crest 100 Mile   
100m 103% 4508 Leadville Trail 100 Miles  
100m 100% 7497 Western States 100 Miles  
100m 99% 79 San Diego 100 Mile   
100m 96% 46 McNaughton Park Trail Runs 
100m 93% 72 Rio Del Lago 100 Mile   
100m 93% 41 Ancient Oaks 100  
100m 91% 66 Haliburton Forest 100  
100m 90% 984 Mohican Trail 100 Mile  
100m 89% 108 Javelina Jundred 100 Mile  
100m 88% 341 Old Dominion 100 Mile One Day  
100m 88% 34 SULPHUR SPRINGS 100 Mile 
100m 88% 451 Arkansas Traveller 100 Mile 
100m 88% 628 Kettle Moraine 100 mile  
100m 84% 3533 Vermont Trail 100 Miles  
100m 84% 91 Heartland 100 Mile   
100k 81% 68 HURT Trail 100k option  
100m 81% 281 Umstead 100 Mile   
100m 81% 1654 Rocky Raccoon 100m  
100m 80% 41 Old Dominion 100 mile Memorial Day
100m 76% 22 Dan Rossi Memorial Ultras 
140m 66% 17 IronMan CoeurdAlene  
140m 61% 20 IronMan Canada  
200m 60% 8 Mt Tam Double Century 
100k 58% 45 Where's Waldo 100K  
200m 57% 14 The Terrible Two  
100k 53% 97 Bandera 100km  
140m 53% 25 IronMan Wisconsin  
50m 48% 332 Zane Grey 50 Miles  
140m 47% 28 IronMan USA Lake Placid  
100k 46% 1052 Miwok 100K  
140m 46% 35 IronMan Florida  
100k 46% 42 Kettle Moraine 100k option 
140m 46% 14 IronMan Hawaii World Championship
50m 40% 99 Bishop High Sierra 50 Miles 
50m 40% 70 Tahoe Rim Trail 50 Miles 
52m 39% 340 Sierra Nevada   
100k 39% 144 Ruth Anderson 100k  
100k 39% 7 Orange Curtain 100k  
50m 37% 229 White River 50 Miles  
50m 36% 340 Silver State 50 Miles  
50m 36% 528 Quicksilver 50 Mile  
50m 36% 425 FireTrail 50 Miles  
50m 36% 80 Run on the Sly 50 Miles  
50k 35% 338 Silver State 50k  
50m 35% 342 Nugget 50 Miles   
50m 35% 19 Mt Hood PCT 50 Miles  
50m 35% 369 Leona Divide 50 Mile Run 
50m 35% 147 Umstead 50 Miles  
50m 34% 536 California 50 Miles   
35m 34% 84 Santa Barbara 9 Trails 35 Mile  
50m 33% 2568 American River 50 Miles  
50m 33% 52 McKenzie River 50 Miles  
50m 32% 414 Avalon 50 Miles  
50m 32% 41 Rocky Raccon 50 Miles  
50k 31% 203 Baldy Peak 50k  
50m 31% 163 Helen Klein 50 Miles  
50m 30% 114 Cow Mountain 50 Miles  
50k 30% 64 Tahoe Rim Trail 50k  
50m 30% 372 Jed Smith 50 Miles  
50k 28% 16 Bishop High Sierra 50 Mile and 50 Km
38m 28% 26 Haleakala Run to the Sun
50m 28% 20 Ruth Anderson 50 Miles  
50k 28% 37 Mt. Disappointment 50 Km  
50k 25% 12 Nugget 50 Miles   
50k 24% 411 Ohlone Wilderness 50K Trail Run 
50k 23% 253 Crown King Scramble 50k  
50k 23% 195 McDonald Forest 50K  
71m 23% 31 WildFlower Long Course Triathlon
50k 23% 7 Bighorn Mountain Trail Run 
50k 23% 76 Run on the Sly 50 Km  
34m 22% 36 Peterson Ridge Rumble 60k 
50k 22% 219 Golden Gate Headlands 50k 
50k 22% 58 Bandera 50k  
50k 22% 53 Bulldog 50K Ultra Run  
28m 22% 687 Quad Dipsea  
50k 21% 43 Siskiyou Out Back 50K  
50k 21% 81 Chuckanut 50k  
71m 21% 27 California Half Ironman  
50k 20% 297 Quicksilver 50K  
50k 20% 13 Ruth Anderson 50k  
50k 20% 512 Skyline 50k  
50k 20% 1392 Way Too Cool 50k  
50k 19% 73 Hagg Lake Trail Runs 50k 
50k 19% 5 Wild Wild West 50k  
50k 19% 36 McKenzie River 50k 
50k 18% 301 OTHTC High Desert Ultra 50k 
50k 17% 31 Helen Klein 50k  
50k 17% 38 Salem Lakeshore Frosty Fifty Km 
50k 17% 384 Jed Smith Ultra Classic 50K 
45m 12% 14 Santa Barbara Long Course Triathlon

A general trend can be observed below:

From 50 km to 100 mile,   factor is 4 to 6.
From 50 mile to 100 mile, factor is 2.5 to 3.5

June 25, 2011

Thanks For the Memories

National Cathedral - One of My Favorite Places to Visit
This week I spent some time on the road. On the road as in traveling. On the road as in “off” the trail. Normally a double dose of “don’ts” when training. But I’ve learned there is no such thing as perfect preparation when training for ultras. Its not like I can just press the pause button on life to do this stuff.

When my red-eye flight landed in Washington, D.C. it was north of 90 degrees and 90% humidity. I’m used to running  while I’m traveling but this trip was a little more of a challenge. It wasn’t the heat so much as the schedule of afternoon and dinner meetings that took their toll. If I can’t run in the evening while on the east coast, mornings become a roll of the dice. I’ve just never been a morning runner. Waking up 3 hours early makes mornings that much more miserable on the east coast. I still managed a few very low-key runs.

Most importantly I was able to see Warren S and Martin V, two good friends of mine from my days living in DC during and after college. I haven’t seen these guys forever and it made the couple hours we spent together seem like minutes. Warren reminded me of the first night I met them. In the middle of a warm summer night in DC. Driving in the back of George’s pick-up truck with several cases of beer. No arrests. Martin reminded me of the 10ks we ran together. Like the Georgetown 10k. He pointed out that we did that race after staying out the entire night before eating and drinking a lot of nasty things. Then I remembered. Everything flowed perfectly for me in that race. Until I reached the finish line. And then I couldn’t control the flow. I continued running. Real fast. To the can. Not pretty.

Thanks for the memories guys.

June 13, 2011

San Diego 100 - Race Report

Ever tried to mix things up on a 100 mile run? Make it fun? Keep it interesting? Its not easy because it’s still, well, 100 miles.  

Whether it was the copious amount of Cabernet and the gineormous hamburger I had for my pre-race dinner, the Vespa drink and mayo-smothered turkey sandwiches during the race, or the hours spent on my elliptical machine at sub-aerobic heart rates for many months, something worked for me at SD 100.
Race Director Scotty Mills
The only problem with wearing a blue clown’s hat made of heavy felt for 100 miles is that after just 13 miles your head turns into a boiling tomato. So my vision of running 100 miles with a clown hat to “mix it up” quickly faded, and I flung the circus derby like a Frisbee at Rob M when I rolled into the Red Tail Roost aid station.

The San Diego 100 mile endurance run takes place in the Laguna Mountains 57 miles east of downtown San Diego. 2011 was the tenth running of the race which, by this runners account, is every bit as challenging as Western States. Sure San Diego lacks Western States’ vertical gain and loss, but it more than makes up for this in its more challenging technical terrain. Yes San Diego lacks the stifling Western States’ heat, but it counters with a long sustained climb at elevation at the end of the race. Its no surprise that the average finishing times of these two races is within 3%. 

One of the toughest sections of SD is an 8 mile climb which comes at mile 36, during the hottest time of day. I suffered here but loved the popsicle station around 2.5 miles into the climb. Here runners are offered a choice of a small or large popsicle, the large being the prized cherry/pineapple Big Stick I remember from grade school. Have you ever run with a Big Stick? I grabbed my ice cold 60 calories and quickly shuffled along.
Jen and I at aid station 
As I moved through the aid stations my crew was doing a great job at keeping me fed and hydrated. My wife Jen, Laura W and Rob M served me what I’ve determined was my magic formula – Vespa Drink and Turkey sandwiches. I started on this diet at mile 44 and by mile 50 an unusual and sustained energy crept into my legs. My heart rate dropped to a consistent 130 bpm, my optimal fat burning zone. I no longer had to eat gels every 30 to 45 minutes to sustain my energy as I had early in the day. 

Having now completed my third 100 mile race, I’ve come to realize that this sport is as much a selfless endeavor as it is a selfish one. On the grander scale, the hours of my solitary training to prepare for this grueling oddity are dwarfed by the hours spent by all the race volunteers and my crew and pacer who worked around the clock to watch my back. It is here that I give a special thanks to Rob M who, for the third time now, paced me to the finish line of another 100 miler. When I began to crack around mile 93, yelling loudly that we were sure as hell lost on this dark trail, Rob simply said “stop worrying about your map and just run”. At one point I was sure we’d missed a turn, thinking we’ve covered more ground than we really had. When Rob finally said “you think you are hauling ass and you’re just not” I knew it was time for me to shut up. Moments later we found our turn and began the long descent to the finish line.

As Rob and I approached the finish line I could see Scotty Mills, the race director, who I’d seen throughout the day offering words of encouragement to all the runners. Then I heard Jen and Laura W cheering for me, and I knew I had truly reached the end of this journey. Time was on my side on this one with a top 10 finish and a new PR of 21 hours and 46 minutes.

To my crew Jen and Laura W, all the volunteers (especially Bad Rats Scotty Mills and Tracy Moore), and most importantly my pacer Rob M, thank you all for making this journey one to remember.

June 6, 2011

Burning At Both Ends

After running the Bishop High Sierra 100k two weeks ago I was feeling pretty good about my conditioning, as well as my preparation for the San Diego 100 miler this weekend. But after catching a stubborn cold a week ago my confidence has been facing a stiff headwind. A cold in June? Yes.  I hate colds. What I hate more catching three colds in the last six months.  I don't remember the last time I had more than one cold in a year. Then again I don't remember ever training for and racing 6 ultras totaling 412 miles in six months. Did I mention I also have a job and a family? Yes, my candle is burning at both ends.

What I’m realizing is that I can’t take my health for granted, particularly now when I'm pounding my body like I am.  I’ve also learned that the little things—like good nutrition, adequate recovery and lots of sleep—are irreplaceable.  I’ve overlooked some of these and my immune system has paid price. Knowing this I'm going to do a few things differently now. Like not waiting until I'm sick to take vitamins and drink lots of water. Or trying to get my miles back up the week after finishing a 50 miler or 100k. Or not slowing down the social calendar when I really need the sleep. All common sense stuff, but stuff that leads to common mistakes. 

I'm looking forward to my next two races. Both 100 milers, and both within my grasp. As long as the candle doesn't burn me!