Friday, July 1, 2011

Week Ending June 26 - Hardrock Thoughts/Prognostications

Mon - Noon: 7 miles (1,600') easy. Falls - Spring Creek - Stout - Herrington - Spring Creek - Soderberg - home long.

Tues - 0 miles.

Weds - 5 miles (1,000'). Up and into the snow on the Five Lakes trail from Alpine Meadows. With Scott and AJW.

Thurs - 5 miles (1,000'). As Weds, with Scott.

Fri - 3 miles (500').
To the Five Lakes TH and back with Scott, Nick, Timmy and Jake.

Sat - 102 miles (18,000').
Western States.

Sun - 0 miles.

Total: 122 miles (22,000')

Well Western States has come and gone, and quite honestly I'm glad to be moving on. I feel like I had a good race, but can't quite shake the feeling that I might have missed an opportunity out there. Oh well.

Right now, I have absolutely no idea if I'll be back next year. For me, there is only one reason to run Western States and that is to run against competition. The event is fun and the surroundings beautiful, but the course - despite its history - just doesn't do much for me.

Anyway, the recovery is moving along. The swelling has largely subsided in my ankles and elsewhere, meaning that I am able to get a decent read on what it is I've got going on and what I'll likely be dealing with at Hardrock. I think my feet are going to be just fine, with the exception of a bruised left big toe, which I guess was butting up against my shoe last weekend. Looks like I'll wind up with my first ever black toenail there, but hopefully the actual bruising and pain will be minimal come race day. Elsewhere in the foot region, I have an inflamed extensor tendon, which is a bit of a concern, but it's getting better by the day so should be good to go in seven days. In addition, there is some deep muscle soreness in my quads, but again that should be okay in a week.

So clearly I'm going to be a bit dinged up for Hardrock, but I still plan on giving it a go. I know I won't be winning the race, but I'm hoping that I can still put up a respectable sub-30 hour time. Quite honestly, however, I'll be over the moon with any kind of finish. To beat Andy's 46:56 (Western States: 18:46:51, Hardrock: 28:09:09) double from 2009, I would need to go under 31:05, so I guess that is a goal too.

Goals in order: podium, sub-30, sub-31:05, finish.

I haven't run a step since Saturday, and have actually hiked no further than a half mile with the kids. I'm going to try and get up something high this weekend - maybe Mt Massive from Leadville - but it's going to be a very leisurely hike with lots of stops along the way to check out views, wildflowers and other high-alpine beauty.

Of course I wish that I was primed for Hardrock, but things didn't pan out that way this year. If I can get in again next year, then I'm definitely going to forgo WS and take a stab at doing something fast at HR. So my self-pity aside, I'm really looking forward to Hardrock as a fan of the sport. A quick look at the pointy end of the field, which looks quite intriguing this year:

Podium contenders:

Karl Meltzer - He's won it multiple times and should be rested. I'm picking the Speedgoat as the favorite
Joe Grant - Joe is ready. He's great in the mountains and just a solid runner. Definite contender.
Julien Chorier - I had a brief chat with Kilian about Julien as we were making our way down to the Poppy trail at WS last weekend. Kilian says he's the real deal. Obviously he's an unknown quantity stateside, but the Kilian nod is good enough for me to put him up there as a contender.
Duncan Callahan - Two time Leadville champ. He's a bit hit or miss, but I expect DC to have a solid run.
Dakota Jones - Still unproven at anything over 50 miles, but these are DJ's mountains. We'll see.
Jared Campbell - Jared is the defending champ, so has to be respected. That said, he tends to be a high-20-hour guy, and I think we'll be looking at something 25 hours or better for the win.

Others that should run well:

John Anderson - John knows the course. He had a disappointing run last year, but he's a strong runner, so don't discount him.
Ryan Cooper - Ryan is ready. I have no idea what his goal is, but I'd expect him to go under 30 hours.
Nick Coury - Nick has finished here before and knows what 100-mile running is all about. Sub-30?
Matt Hart - Matt is solid in the mountains, but lacks a bit of speed. Sub-30 should be easy on a good day, but how much faster can he go?
Garrett Graubins - Another solid runner who should go under 30 with a good run.
Christian Johnson - He claims to be running for a finish and a finish only, but I've learned over the years how to sniff out a sandbagger.
Glenn Mackie - Hardrock veteran, look for Glenn to go under 30 with a good run.
Michael Popov - A respected and accomplished fastpacker, I believe. If there was ever a course that was built for strong hikers, this is it.
Pete Stevenson - Pete is a training partner of mine, and he's ready. I'm calling 28 hours and biggest beard of the field.
Kevin Shilling - Kevin is another strong guy in the mountains, but I don't think 100 miles is his best distance.
Nathan Yanko - All the guys above are Colorado or Utah residents, so have altitude options out their front doors. I believe Nathan is from the Bay Area, so the altitude is a wild card. Nonetheless, he's had some strong finishes at West Coast races, so could go well at HR.


Looks like a two-horse race between Darcy Africa and Diana Finkel. I'm calling it for teammate Darcy. Betsy Kalmeyer and Betsy Nye are always strong and very experienced at HR, so maybe they race for third or mop up any Diana or Darcy carnage for second or even the win.


  1. Best of luck to you man. I cannot imagine attempting such a feat, let alone after a sub 16 showing at states. Will be tracking as best I can.

    Darcy for sure is my pick on the women.

    Really interested to see how Yanko does. Bay area folks typically think of elevation as above 5K, and this is a whole different ball game. I'm not sure what HR typically does to sea level folks, but Pb generally does a number so I can only imagine HR is exponentially more so.

  2. Pat - yeah, for some people at Western States, the high country section at 9,000 feet (or whatever it is) was a big concern. Can't say I gave it any thought whatsoever.

    The 12k'+ stuff is a challenge for everyone, but obviously more so for those coming from sea level. I believe Jurek came from sea level (WA) when he won it. No idea if he was getting up high in the months leading up though.

  3. Can't wait to drag you from Grouse to Telluride, Nick. SOunds like you got the right attitude going into this one -- should be a lot of fun!

    Which day are you going to be in Leadville this wkend?

  4. Tomorrow late morning. Are you going to be around? If so, shoot me an email.

  5. I look forward to seeing you out there! And I hope (and expect) that you're legs will recover this week and you'll be up at the front of the pack. But if not, I'd love to share some of the trail with you out there. On my best day, I might (still a stretch) keep up with you on your worst day. And what's the worst that could happen? You have 48 hours to enjoy a lovely trail with all you can eat buffets every few miles.

  6. Scott was out there for a couple months before Hardrock. Nathan has been sleeping in an altitude tent, but that's not quite as good as running, or racing at altitude.

    Dakota didn't have an epic bear 100, but he didn't have a terrible one either. He has a suprisingly mature race plan for a 20 year old, and has been doing his homework out in Silverton for over a month. I don't think he's necessarily certain to win, but this is a good situation for heroes to be made..

  7. Watch out for Nathan. He's fast, strong on the hills and the altitude tent will help. If he holds it together, he's fast (also did a 2:33 marathon in March to improve his speed) and could be at the front. Good luck!

  8. Keep your eyes on the guy that finished 3rd at WS. Can't remember his name, but I think he's from Britain or Alabama. Someplace where he received his accent. Have fun Nick...

  9. Nick,

    I'm heading over to Leadville tonight for an early morning ascent of Elbert if you're interested. Joe G and I got rained out at treeline a couple days ago, but the trail was so nice I feel compelled to go back for the summit. Drop me a line if interested.

  10. I have been diligently working on my facial hair. Maybe I can tell them I am Sir Nick and race States next year.

    Stop by for a beer after your Leadville climb. I will be resting my feet post race.

  11. Brandon - glad you left that comment. Totally spaced that the marathon was happening tomorrow. See you at the finish or on the course.

  12. Hey Nick,

    Solid performance last weekend... I stayed up late and got up early to follow the race (I'm on the other side of the world right now).

    Quite a killer season thus far!

    -Sub 17 in the 5K
    -2:30 something in the marathon
    -CR at Jemez
    -3rd at AR
    -3rd at WS
    -Beer mile champion

    Awesome work dude!