Bryce Canyon is beautiful, but it sure felt like an oven.
The Bryce 100 scared me for a lot of reasons.
Jared and I before the start, when it was dark and refreshingly chilly.
100 miles is really far, but this race in southern Utah also had the added challenge of running between 8,000 and 9,000 feet, something this sea-level dweller isn’t used to.
Another high … The weather forecast. Before we flew out I watched in horror as the forecasted temperature kept climbing … and climbing … and climbing.
Together the distance/altitude/heat sandwich had me lowering my race bar so far that by the time we toed the start line I just had to step over it.
[Goals – in this order: Don’t die, don’t get SAR’d out, don’t burn like toast, finish, finish sub-30]
These are all scary factors by themselves, but the scariest part for me was thinking about running 100 miles alone.
Yes, this is the Bigfoot trail.
Prepping for the Bigfoot 200 last year got me thinking about this age-old question: How would the twitchy trail kids fare during a zombie apocalypse?
Hashing out this hypothetical situation took up miles and miles of chatter among our group and deep thoughts while I was running alone.
It was silly, it was fun, and it eventually snowballed into “5 Bug-Out Lessons from the Light and Fast Ultrarunner Crowd,” for OffGrid Magazine. Jared and I got to share the lessons we learned while prepping for and running the Bigfoot 200 in August.
I loved working on this story, before, during and after the race. I got to talk to several amazing subject-matter experts and learned a thing or two about navigating the backcountry and (hopefully) not dying in the woods.
But I never did answer the original question: Would ultrarunners use their grit and stubbornness to be the last ones standing?
Early miles of the Pinhoti 100 in November.
Jared posted the other day about training volume
, and his three-up-one-down training philosophy.
He stressed that each runner needs to find what works for them, but then to not be afraid of letting that evolve. This got me thinking about how my training — and everything else — has changed over the last couple years.
I used to live in a building that had a fancy pants gym one floor down, so I used to do my weekday runs on a treadmill. All of them.
When the weather was too bad or the morning was too dark — or the sunshine too bright — I’d run inside.
Inside the building and inside my comfort zone.
If Altra and Hoka got together, their little dirt shoe baby would be Topo Athletic.
Both companies make great shoes, but each has a downside that keeps them from being the universal trail shoe champion.
Hoka has plenty of cushion and a great, stable base, but their toebox is notoriously tight. Altra has the best upper and widest toebox on the market, but the zero-drop platform doesn’t work for everyone.
Jared running up front in the Seneca Creek 50K.
We’d talked about. He was going to leave me.
And that was ok.
It was a 20-degree March morning and Jared and I were lined up for the Seneca Creek 50K. The race hadn’t even started yet but I knew I was about to get dropped.
How? Because also lined up were Jared’s very fast friends: Shawn, Pete, Geoff, and Justin. I looked at those fast boys and then I looked ahead at the trail.
He was going to leave me.
And that was ok. Or at least that’s what I kept repeating to myself.
Last year, my buddy — a features editor at Recoil Magazine — asked me for a trail shoe buyers guide.
These are the best stories to write, because I literally get paid to go running. And the fact that Jared got to test four or five pairs of shoes was an extra bonus.
The shoe roundups are great because they make me look past my typical favorites (I’ll unapologetically love you forever, Altra) and put my feet in shoes I might not ordinarily try.