2007 Year in Review – Words and Pictures Version

Alright, since my running for the year is basically over and Olga tagged me, here’s my 2007 year in review. (A more technical analysis will follow after the year’s out.)

1. Most memorable moment on the trail…
I’m wimping out and giving three. Much to my surprise, in varying degrees they all involve my good trail buddy Steve Burton.

  • HURT 100 – While I never wrote about it, I paced Steve for forty miles at the HURT 100 back in January. It was one of the most rewarding awful experiences ever. To start, we missed a turn not more than few miles into my pacing duties and didn’t realize it until the foot of the mountain. Turning around and walking back up a mountain with a good buddy who you should have keep on course sucks. Needless to say, I’m sure Steve didn’t enjoy the mix up either. Not too many miles further down the trail he wanted to drop, I did my best to keep him in the race, and he didn’t enjoy that very much either… but e kept moving down the trail. The muddy, rooty, ankle-busting trail that I was running on an ankle I’d blown out two weeks prior. Ouch! Not the most enjoyable day on the trail, but, like I said, one of the most rewarding. In the end, I knew I had helped a friend make it to the finish and he appreciated it.
Steve chilling out before HURT
  • The Grand Teton Races – At this point, I can’t remember exactly how it happened that Steve and I came to take a trip to the Grand Teton races and the Wasatch 100 at the end of August and beginning of September, but I’m glad we did. The adventure kicked off with a trip to the west side of the Tetons where Steve would race the 50 miler and I was scheduled to pace Andy Jones-Wilkins for the final 30 miles of the 100 miler. Well, pace him I did. After a couple hours sleep, I got up with the grand idea of pacing another runner. Soon I was off pacing Anthony Portera for the final 20 miles of his race. Not to leave a runner on the course, I waited and picked up a third runner, Al, going into his final 5 mile loop. He had about an hour to finish under the cutoff – having run that same loop four previous times in the previous 30 hours I pushed him for all he was worth, but he came up just short. What an amazing weekend! I got a ton of great running in and more importantly found great friends in Andy and Anthony. I hope I have the honor of pacing them both again soon.
Andy, Anthony, me, and Al after the 2007 Grand Teton 100
  • Epic Teton Run – Just two days later, Steve and I went out for a breathtaking 20-some mile run on the east side of the Tetons. The first 3 hours would have been memorable on their own… and then Steve got hurt. I can’t forget how scared and helpless I felt at the time.
Steve and me atop the world… or at least the Tetons.

2. Best new trail I discovered in 2007…
Valley Trail, Jackson Hole, Wyoming. Heading north out of Teton Village, this trail, itself, is pleasant but unremarkable. However, it has the potential to be the access ramp to countless epic runs along, over, and around the Tetons. This year, I got to take brief spin on the VT and cruise it to kick of an epic run.

3. My best performance of the year was…
The JFK 50 miler… and not because I ran a 50 mile PR hot on the heals of two other 50 miles nor because I was on the winning men’s team; rather, because it was my best effort on the year. I started out strong, steadily increased my effort, never backed off – even for a couple minutes, and came into the finish spent. Could I have run a good deal faster had I been fresh? Who cares – I ran smart and hard and my run at the 2007 JFK 50 is my most honest effort of the year. To this performance I raise a bottle of High Life. (I’m in recovery/beer infusion mode at the moment.)

My heart rate data from the 2007 JFK 50 miler

4. I do not know how I previously survived without…
Tough call. Really Tough Call. Hmm… think survival. That helps. I don’t know how I got along without the Nathan HPL #020. I love the vest pack. It’s awesome. It intrigued me when I first saw Mike Mason wearing it at Cascade Crest in 2006. I got one HPL 020 when I first joined the Montrail Nathan team and bought a second one a few months latter. No regrets in picking up two of these. While many features of the #020 are nice, I particularly like the three front pockets. A nice size one for tons o’ gel and/or a camera on the waist and two small chest pockets, one of which I use for a couple more gels and one I use for my S Caps! I highly recommend this pack!

Me and my Nathan HPL #020 in the Tetons

Runners up:

  1. Shot Bloks – Oh, how do I love they. Let me count the ways. So tasty. So solid. So not solid. For the most part I don’t eat any solid when racing an ultra, but I’ve added these to my race repertoire. They give my stomach a little something solid every couple hours to stop tummy rumbling, while not being hard to chew or digest. Also, while I normally consume 100 calories from gel every 30 to 45 minutes during a race, I can easily down a pack of Shotbloks in one go for a quick infusion of 200 calories.
  2. Double Espresso Clif Shot – Yum. Buzz. Buzzbuzzbuz. A tasty, non-sweet gel that tasty like coffee. Am I dreaming not after I have me another Double Espresso Clif Shot.

5. The person I would most like to meet on a trail in 2008…
My sister. Whether it’s us racing to the line at our Mt. Mitchell/Black Mountain Challenge, her crewing for me at Hardrock or Tahoe Rim, or just the two of us rolling through a couple trail miles in Washington Crossing State Park. I’m a truly fortunate big brother.

Gretch and me in the Wasatch Mts – 2005.

6. The race I am most excited/scared about in 2008 is…
Hardrock. That was easy, and it will be hard. Now I just have to make it through the lottery. Of course, if I get into Hardrock, I’m making myself run the Massanutten 100 in May. I fear few things more than running MMT. I’d say it’s a beast, but I’ve never run longer than 43 miles in those mountains. I’ve heard horror stories. I’ve had some miserable experiences. I’m not ready to face MMT, but sometimes you need to jump in and face your fears.

If I don’t get into Hardrock, I’m most excited about Western States ’08… and I’m not even running it. It’s rare that one gets to witness history firsthand, let alone be part of it. Trail willing, I’ll pace someone to a record breaking performance on June 28, 2008. What can I say? I love pacing… probably more that I love racing. That’s something that I learned this year.

Onwards and upwards in ’08!