Race Report: 2015 New Year’s Revolution Run – 5 Hour Indoor

Looking back on 2014, I am pleased with how it went overall.  Although I had a couple minor injuries that impacted two of my races, I didn’t have any long-lasting, debilitating injuries that completely derailed my season like I did in both 2012 and 2013.  Minor injuries and aches happen to all runners that do what we do and they typically amount to nothing more than speed bumps over the course of a season.  For me, these usually consist of rolled ankles, of which I had no shortage of this year.  Still, the fact that I was able to run all year, and log my first 2,000 mile year in the process, was a huge success for me.  So as I consider 2014, I decided that I am in a great position to up my game even more.  I want to build on 2014 and push myself to levels I have not achieved before, so I have set a few goals to help me get there:

  • 50K Indoor PR
  • 50K Outdoor PR
  • 100 Mile Finish
  • 2,250 miles

To accomplish this, I needed to start my training and race season earlier than usual and so why not do it on day one with the New Year’s Revolution Run in Kearns, Utah.  This race is not unlike many other fixed-duration races that you see out there, although at 5 hours, it is a bit shorter than most.  Still, it does hold some appeal to Salt Lake City locals looking to start off the year on a good note and, for me, represented a perfect kickoff to 2015.  This particular race does have somewhat of a “cool” factor (no pun intended) when compared to other track-style races; it is held at the Utah Olympic Oval, home to the 2002 Olympic speed skating events.  The running track is a 442m track that extends around the outside of the ice, which gives runners a nice view of the ice skaters and Olympic hopefuls in training.  This serves as a great distraction to the otherwise monotonous act of running around in a circle over and over again.  In short, it doesn’t erase the fact that you are running in circles around an indoor track, but helps dull the reality a little bit.

2015RevolutionStart I look so excited about running around a track at 8am!

This year, 360 runners towed the line at 8am on January 1st, each with his/her own goals (one could argue that only in Salt Lake City would you ever see that many people NOT still hung over at 8am on January 1st).  I was also happy to see that a majority were out there with the intent to go the whole five hours, including a bunch of my ultrarunning buddies from the Wasatch Mountain Wranglers.  For me, my goals were simple…stay consistent, go the whole five hours, and run at least a 50K (with 55K being the sweet spot). For the most part, I did what I set out to do.  Although I got caught up in the crowd and started out a bit too fast, I managed to settle into a nice pace for the last four hours, staying close to my aerobic zone for much of the event.  In the end, I managed to run 115 laps, which was a 50K + 1 extra lap for good measure.  This was good enough for 10th place overall on the day; not a bad start overall for the 2015 season!

2015RevolutionFinish Just a few Top 10 Wrangler finishers afterwards!

As far as play by play, there really isn’t much to tell about a race that is run NASCAR-style around what amounts to a track that is only slightly longer than a quarter mile.  Instead, I will focus more on the lessons learned and what I got out of it personally.

First, running around in small circles for 5 hours is a completely ridiculous endeavor.  Of course, for me, that was the appeal of this particular race.  I signed up for this purely as a mental exercise in preparation for my first 100-mile race in a few months.  In this respect it certainly met my expectations.  There were times, particularly during the 2 1/2 to 4 hour window, where I was going insane and didn’t feel like doing it anymore.  I had to push through it mentally, and that is what I did.  My hope is that this experience will serve me well in about 10 weeks when I am suffering through my 100-miler.  I can only imagine (and hope) that other fixed-time races that are run on longer, one- or two-mile tracks would be a bit more tolerable. Certainly, if I ever do this format again (which I am sure I will) it will definitely be on a longer course.

Second, I forgot how different this type of event is on the body versus the trails.  The track surface at the Oval is a carpet material over the top of concrete.  It is slightly softer than running on pavement, but harder than a typical outdoor rubber track.  Combined with no change of direction and having a repetitive cadence, my legs were definitely beat up the next day, especially my quads and hips.  I guess there is probably some benefit to running like this, even for a trail runner, but it definitely reminded me of one of the reasons why I prefer to do all of my long runs on the trails.

Lastly, with over 250 people on the track for a good part of the race, it did get a bit crowded at times, but still ended up being a fun social event.  It was great chatting with people and seeing so many of my ultra buddies out there running too.

In any case, while I without a doubt prefer running the trails, I still had a great time.  I think this type of race is certainly something that you shouldn’t hesitate to try at some point.  In branching out and doing different things, we can only get stronger and learn more about ourselves as runners and as people.

Now time for thanks.  First and foremost, my family gets the most props.  This race kicks off what is going to be a busy year and their constant support is what makes it possible.  Thanks to my 2015 product sponsors, Orange Mud, Injinji, Gargoyles, Honey Stinger, and Virus for giving me the opportunity to represent them and their fantastic products.  Thanks to all of my Wasatch Mountain Wrangler friends, some of which joined me on this crazy run.  Thanks to all of the race staff and volunteers for their support and in creating an awesome event!

What I used:

  • Orange Mud HydraQuiver Single Barrel hydration pack (didn’t really need it on the course, but I feel naked without it!)
  • Injinji Compression OTC socks
  • Hoka One One Clifton shoes
  • Honey Stinger waffles and chews
  • Virus compression shorts
  • Headsweats race hat

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Pacing at the 2014 Wasatch 100

We Utah trail runners are so fortunate! We have one of the oldest, toughest, and most classic 100 mile races in North America right in our back yard. The Wasatch 100 is iconic for sure, but definitely not a race that you should ever take for granted.  If you do, it will destroy you (of course, it is likely to do that even if you don’t).  While I have not run it before myself, this year marked the second occasion that I have had the privilege to step in as a pacer for a “lucky” soul who decided to give it a go. This year, I jumped in to support my buddy DJ Loertscher for his first attempt, pacing with him through much of the night from the Lamb’s Canyon aid station at mile 52 until the Brighton aid station at mile 74. As always, I wanted to take some time to share my perspective and observations from this years race.

I arrived at the Lamb’s Canyon aid station a bit early at about 3:30 on Friday afternoon.  At this point, I just missed seeing the eventual winner, George Grygar, but saw everyone behind him starting to roll in.  The Lamb’s station is always a party, with lots of people there to see their runners, pacers waiting to join the party, and an awesome crew of volunteers.  Here I ran in to a bunch of Wranglers and we chatted and messed around until our runners came through.  It is interesting seeing the runners at this point because you can tell a lot about how their day is going.  At just over half way, some came in very energetic and some just looked like hell.

Lambs AS Wasatch 2014 Lamb’s AS starting to get busy

At around 7pm, DJ rolled in as part of a “Wrangler conga line” with Kenzie Barlow, Matt Williams, Kendall Wimmer, and Scott Wesemann.  Despite being 52 miles in and coming off of the hottest, most exposed section of the course, DJ was looking in good spirits despite going off course for a bit (thanks to Aaron Williams for going and getting him).  After a quick turnaround time of 3-4 minutes, DJ and I got heading up the road towards the turnoff to climb up Lamb’s Canyon.

DJ at Wasatch 100 2014 DJ having fun!

The section between Lamb’s and Brighton is probably the most familiar to a lot of us from the Salt Lake Valley, but during Wasatch, most come through it in the dark which gives it a very different feel.  We made most of the climb up Lamb’s before it got too dark and didn’t have to throw on the headlamps until around the top of Bare Ass Pass.  Once at the top we hydrated a bit (I will neither confirm nor deny that there may have been some Jim Beam involved) and started down into Millcreek canyon toward Elbow Fork.  We were able to run most of this section at a pretty steady pace down to Millcreek Canyon Rd, where we then started the second climb up toward the Upper Big Water aid station.

The climb up the road takes us about 2 miles and over 1000 feet to the back of Millcreek Canyon and the Upper Big Water aid station.  Here, we took a bit of extra time to take care of some blisters DJ was getting on his heels (the only time you will ever catch me touching another guys feet – but that is what a good pacer is willing to do), change socks, and get into some warmer clothes.  After that, we were back on the trail.  Over the next 5 miles, we would head down past Dog Lake and up our next climb, which took us to the Desolation Lake aid station.  This is my favorite section of the course and one I run often, but again, it looked totally new in the dark.  At this point, DJ was starting to struggle as the fatigue of 65 miles and 18K ft of climbing started to catch up with him.  We were able to do a little running during this section, but it was mostly speed hiking.

Wasatch 2014 DarknessHave seen this trail many times…uh, where are we?

After leaving Desolation Lake, we began another short climb up to the Wasatch Crest.  DJ had to stop and sit for a few as fatigue was really starting to set in, but after a couple minutes we were back at it and pushing toward the Scott’s Pass aid station.  After a few miles along the ridge, we arrived at Scott’s where we found that they had a warming tent with a cot…this was too tempting for DJ to pass up.  He took a 15 minute power nap in order to recharge a bit.  After waking up, he drank a few cups of hot soup with noodles and we began the final push to Brighton.

This section is mostly downhill, starting with Puke Hill and then out onto the Guardsman Pass road.  This downhill was really causing issues with DJs knee and he was starting to experience pain, so we resorted to speed hiking as quickly as we could until we pulled in to Brighton.  When we got there, luckily, fellow Wrangler Steve Frogley was there to work his chiropractic magic on DJ to help get him going again.

For me, this was the end of my journey as I passed the pacing torch to Jeremy to get DJ to the finish line, which he did, for a finish time of about 31:30.  I was glad that I got to be a part of that journey.  Despite seeing the trials and suffering on the course, it still makes me yearn for my first 100 mile finish.  We ultra runners are a sad, psychotic bunch of people, but there is nothing more fulfilling than pushing the limits and conquering.  Congrats to all first timers and veterans that crushed Wasatch 100.  I will get my turn soon enough!

Lessons Learned:

  1. DJ Loertscher is tough as nails and a complete badass!
  2. The Wasatch 100 experience cannot be put into words…it is amazing!
  3. The Wasatch Mountain Wranglers are the best running group out there…we all are totally there for each other.
  4. I need to get off of my ass and finish a 100 miler.

What I used:

  • Orange Mud Vest Pack
  • Salomon Sense Mantra
  • Injinji Trail 2.0
  • Garmin Fenix 2
  • Headsweats race hat

Product Sneak Peek: Orange Mud Handheld Bottle

As an Orange Mud Ambassador, I get the opportunity to see their new products before they get to market.  As such, I had already seen some pictures of the new (and first) handheld from Orange Mud.  However, I was fortunate enough to get to play with it first hand while working with the team at Outdoor Retailer Summer 2014 last week.  I have always been a bottle guy, and while I now use a vest almost exclusively, I started with handhelds.  I transitioned to vests purely out of the need to have extra storage and water for many of my unsupported, back country training runs.  With the HydraQuiver single barrel, I also find that I use it on shorter runs too.  That being said, there are MANY people that love handhelds and, I have to admit, there are times when they really are the simplest hydration solution.  I do have a number of issues with a lot of the handhelds that I have used in the past.

  • The elastic that you find on many brands that wraps around the bottle loses its elasticity over time.
  • The bottle moves too much, requiring me to maintain a constant grip on it.

In typical problem-solving fashion, Orange Mud set out to solve both of these with their entry into the handheld market.  Take a look at a couple pictures and you will quickly see why.

OM Handheld Front

In this picture, you will see that the bottle sits down in a full enclosure instead of elastic bands wrapped around the bottle.  This material is built to last and will not break down over time.  It is also made of the same high-grade material as the HydraQuiver packs.  The enclosure will come with a 21 oz. bottle, but easily accommodates the larger 24 oz. bottles that come with the packs.  It also has two pouches on the front.  One smaller secure pouch (with a key clip inside it) and a larger pouch behind it, great for gels and such.

OM Handheld Back

In this picture, you get a view of the strap that holds the bottle around your hand.  This strap is fully adjustable, allowing you to decide how snug you want it to fit.  The wide of the strap also maximizes coverage over your hand, which aids in keeping the bottle in place.  Once adjusted for your hand, the bottle simply does not move.

While I was not able to take it out for a proper run (had to save it for demoing at Outdoor Retailer), I did wear it around for the good part of the day at the show and was happy with both its comfort and stability in my hand.  I will make the necessary updates to this review once I get a chance to field test it.  Overall, it promises to be another positive innovation in the world of endurance hydration.  It is due out toward the end of the summer.

DISCLAIMER: At the time of writing this review, I am a member of the Orange Mud Ambassador team.  Despite this, I will always do my best to maintain a neutral stance and offer as much of an unbiased review of the product as possible.  I will always look to call out the positives and negatives of every product I review so that I can provide you with a thorough review that you can count on.

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