Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Imogene Pass Run - 2015

Between August 1st of 2008 and July 31st of 2009, I (Colin) decided to set a goal of sampling and recording my reviews of 1000 different beers. The idea came after a trip to Disney and the "year of 1000 or a million dreams" or some such thing, and I was like yeah, that sounds catchy! As always, Kris reluctantly, but exhuberantly supported me in my latest goal.

It was a great year. I sampled many beers from around the US, and even a few out of country beers. We went to Denver on vacation and in 3 days sampled 167 beers. I also attended a couple of beer tasting events and would hit from 60-80 beers at these events with a support team of course. It's a timely thing when you have 2 hours, and you're sampling on average of a beer every 2 minutes, including recording thoughts, and waiting in lines.  It helped to have your crew out in 3 different lines, and bringing back beers to you. I also had a group of guys at a local bar in Corning where every Friday night we did beer sampling, and these guys took it upon themselves to make sure that there were no duplicates. Support beyond my wildest dreams! If you can't imagine how awesome it was, you have to just trust me when I tell you.  Awesome!  It was my first Ultra event and I didn't even realize it! 
I completed it at a golf event with friends on Friday July 31 2009, where I completed my 1003rd beer of that year. I wanted to be sure I didn't mis-count, thus the extra 3. I still have the stack of 4x6 note cards in a cabinet in my office. It's cool to remember. Here's a shot from a typical night at the house. Kris's aunt was not helping - that's her Diet Pepsi! 

After that was completed, a great friend said, "so now what? Are you going to do something to lose the beer belly you gained?" So of course I said yeah! I'll start running! and that's what we did. Of course, our very first race as newborn runners was the Dogfish Dash 10K at Dogfish Head Brewery in Delaware on September 27th. It took Kris and I 1:09 to finish, but the running bug had bitten us, and by the end of the year we had done 4 races. The Dash, the Wineglass Relay in Corning, I did the Ridgewalk 10K in Wellsville, my very first trail run, and we completed the year with a trip to Virginia for the Lexington to Buena Vista 10K. The oldest road race in the state of Virginia. Doesn't Kris look thrilled??
In February we went to Sedona Arizona and raced in our first half marathon where Kris beat me soundly. My first half took me 2:39:49. I will say, I would love to go back and do that race again. Maybe make it my first road full? Who knows. The shirts were from a venture called "SipnSlips", we were trying to make a website / app to easily rate beers based off the 4x6 cards I was using. The shirt front said "How many have YOU tried?" I still wear my shirt on occassion. 

 Anyways, after Sedona, friends who we went with gave me the book "Born to Run" on tape, and I finished it, and sent a thank you email on March 5th, where I mentioned maybe someday being able to do Leadville, and that I had found a very cool race I would like to  someday do, called the Imogene Pass Run. "See, it's this 17 mile run where you climb for over a mile in elevation and go over a 13,000 foot pass. From one town to another.  Doesn't it sound cool!?" 

So from there I continued to run. I joined a cycling / tri team, and did a couple of triathlons, got bored with that and turned to Randonneuring - long distance cycling. My goal was to do a 200K every month for 12 months. I started in December of 2011 and I got to August. I had done a number of 200Ks and a 300K which took about 18 hours. I was riding my August 200K alone, on the roads in mid-Pennsylvania, 87 miles into a 126 mile ride, and I called Kris and told her to pick me up in Coudersport. She asked if everything was alright, and I told her that I was just done. Done spending numerous hours away from my family. Done spending numerous hours alone on rural roads, as beautiful as they were!  12 hours in the saddle was far more than the pleasureable 4 hour ride that you can go have with friends and see a whole lot of country. I had a blog (www.cascadianrhythms.blogspot.com) - which is still up - which has some of my cycling reports, and a few of my recent running reports, but I thought I would switch things up, and try to make this more of a family type of blog, so Kris and I started the Running with Kevin Blog. See, if I can get Kris involved, and she slowly sees how cool trail running is, and trail people are, she'll make the switch. It's my evil plan. 

 I am and always have been a mid-packer, with dreams of being faster, but it doesn't seem to be in my genetics. This is why I went from the cycling/tri racing aspect to the long distance. If you can't go faster, go further. Then I learned, yeah, but don't do it alone, because it sucks being alone. I'm not saying that trail running is a thing you do with someone next to you always, but it's often something you start and finish with friends. Maybe they weren't even friends when you started. But, by the end, you have new friends. 

So - back to Imogene.  Without this being a book, which it has started being, lets get to the details of 2015. In 2014 I did my first snowshoe race - Sprague Brook Scramble with Steve Chaffee from Wellsville. He's a super nice guy that I can't say enough about. In 2014 I did 6 races. A couple out of state to add to my goal of a half in every state, and a couple of my old standards. With 2015 approaching, Steve asked me if I wanted to go run the Frozen Assets snowshoe race near Honeoye Lake on January 3rd. To start the year off right. I said sure!  It ended up being a trail race because of lack of snow, but we got a chance to try out our Kahtoola Spikes that we would be wearing in the upcoming Frozen Snot race in PA 3 weeks later. We also did something I never do. We went to the after party, and hung out. Wow - this is kind of cool, and these people seem like they really like each others company.  Nice. I remember in this race seeing a guy who I thought, OK, I should be somewhere around this guy. It was Matt Bertrand, and if he reads this, it'll be the first time he even knew that. He beat me up the first hill, and I don't think I ever saw him again. He ended up beating me by over a minute. So much for my start line judgement. He's a guy I have been chasing since. Some day I hope to catch up with him. 

Since the Frozen Snot was a bitch and took me 6 hours, lets try the Cast a Shadow Solo and see if I can do 6 hours in snowshoes and set a new distance PR for myself.  Of course I was hoping for completion of my first full marathon, but it wasn't to be. I'll go back after that this coming winter. I ended up doing 6 laps (15 miles) and called it good enough after 3 hours and 55 minutes. The support and people at this event were amazing. The photographer seemed pretty cool, some guy named Ron, and the RD (Mort) remembered my name after the first lap or so. Wow, seems like a neat group of people. That's how they suck you in you see. They're great people, wickedly supportive of each other, and friendly as hell. Plus, they like beer, just like me! 

Just before spring I heard about a little race UP Bristol Mountain, a snowshoe/ski race up the hill. Why not! Now, that one I won my age group, and might have got 2nd overall or something. Of course there were only 5 snowshoe racers - which will be ruined next year when I likely talk 20 more people into the race, and then I spend my time watching them all beat the hell out of me up the hill, but the after party get together will make it all worthwhile. 

The year progressed and I got smarter running, learning to run within myself, and then screwing up repeatedly in the heat, and finally learning that I am NOT a hot weather runner, Tangelwood and Ontario Summit reminded me of that, and then I forgot and was reminded again at 0SPF. All trail races that took me 45 minutes longer than they should have. 

Back to Imogene - but with a slight detour here. Most people who know me know that I am a hunter. I have hunted and fished since I was a kid. I am not a trophy hunter, but am absolutely proud of taking a mature animal. I don't choose to get into a dispute about hunting choices, or whether or not you choose to support it or are against it. When I hunt, I try to be as ethical as possible. I practice, I shoot accurately, and I don't take chances. I also butcher the game myself, so that I am sure I get the most  out of my harvest. I truly believe everyone has a right to defend their side of the arguement, and I support those who choose to back their choices by not eating meat, or supporting that industry. It's also interesting to me that many hunters and non-hunting nature lovers have the same interests and goals, epecially with respect to wildlife and nature politics. Preserving the environment and habitat for a healthier enviroment and contiunuation of healthy survival of all species, is the top concern for all of us. I want to see that fawn or turkey chicks and other natural beauty just as much as friends of mine who choose to be vegetarian or vegan, and don't choose to eat it if it has a soul, heartbeat, or can digest food. I make no apologies for my choices though, I apologize only if they offend you, as that was never my goal. 

Anyhow, after spending a week in Colorado on a hunt with my Cousin and a great friend in the fall of 2014, I came back and another great friend mentioned an interest in doing the same thing in early September of 2015, and would I be interested in going along and filming and taking pictures for him of the experience. I said sure, why not. I also remembered that around that time would be the Imogene Pass Run. So I did a little research. Lo and behold, the end of our hunt would coincide with the Imogene Race. I would be spending alot of time at high elevation prior to the scheduled race date. So I asked my buddy Kim what he thought, and if he would be willing to drive the wrong way home so that I could race. He said sure. why not, and was pretty excited about getting back to Ouray, where he hadn't been in over 20 years to check it out. I also told my old college housemate Keith who was a runner from Alabama about it and he said it sounded awesome! Research said that it was not easy to get into. That it sold out 2 years ago in 2 hours and last year in 58 minutes. I knew we were going to have to be on the ball to get in, and the morning registration opened, both Keith and I were ready. Iphone, IPad, and computer were all logged into the site. 8:00 rolled around (6:00 mountain time) and I was in! Keith texted me 2 minutes later and he was also in! Then he said he tried to check to confirm and the registration site had basically failed. There was so much traffic for this race that we (registering runners) locked up the site. It'll be interesting to see what next year will bring. 

A couple of weeks later I decided that I needed someone to keep me honest about my training, and hired a coach. Heather Horth is a personal trainer / coach with a masters in Exercise Physiology and a vast knowledge for running and running fast. She's also a certified adult distance running coach through the Road Runners Club of America, and I knew her from Healthworks, the gym I use when I get out of bed early enough. We had 10 weeks until I headed into the Sangre De Cristo mountains of Colorado for 2 weeks prior to the race, and she put me to work. I complained often of not ever feeling that I was recovering between runs, but never got injured. My running went from 34 miles a week up to  around 40 miles per week pretty quickly, and I had plenty of hill work, sprints, speedwork, and some fatigue work in there. Stuff she liked - like "hey! I see you're running the Evl 9 in Ellicotteville on Sunday the 26th of July. Lets have you run 12 miles the day before, so that you run that race fatigued." Are you shitting me!!? Damn.. But I did it with a smile on my face, most of the time, and felt pretty good. I don't know if the tired legs was muscle fatigue, or lactic acid, but it typically went away around mile 3, so I just went with it. She definitely helped me learn from my races and mistakes, and I learned to run more within myself. She might be a road runner and coach, but she got me alot faster and stronger. 

So on August 30th Kim and I left for Colorado.  We spent 10 nights sleeping in a tent at 11,880 feet.

We hiked in with 80+ lb packs, and out 2 times with heavy packs because of Kims success. On that trip out, the first time, I hiked 1.6 miles, up 1500 feet, with a 100 lb+ pack on my back. This was Wednesday, Saturday was Imogene. I would take 10 steps and do a standing rest. It was rough. 

During the first week my pack was around 30 lbs when we went out to scout.

The second week it was closer to 50 because of carrying more camera equipment. But, I believe this did just as much damage as good. What I lacked in a taper coming into my A race for the year, I gained in knowledge of how to climb, step, look, hike, roll your ankle without falling, and do it all with a lack of air. As the weeks progressed the air "came back" or at least I became acclimated. We left the woods on Thursday and headed to Ouray. Arriving in town in the evening. Friday we spent relaxing, and going to the Hot Springs Pool for a 3-4 hour soak and recovery before the race. Packet pickup Friday night, and get to dinner quick before the town closes down at 9. Yes, 9PM. Nothing is open. They're goal is to be a family town, and they found that being open later just has more drunk people on the street and that's a huge deterrent to families, so they chose to run their town the way that works for them. 

Up at 5 to get ready, and have an apple and some peanut butter. Store was closed when we left dinner, so no applesauce (which I typically use to get things moving pre-race), but the apple did the trick like coffee, and I hit the john twice before heading to the start line with Keith. 

I was excited, a little worried, but felt like I couldn't have been more prepared. So I was ready. 

Race start is at 7:30 and we met a super nice guy Garick at the start who had run it 5 times and came up from New Mexico. He gave us some pointers, and said that he had done it in 4:15 - 4:45. He mentioned that he wasn't the best descender, but I thought that if I saw him much I would be happy. My unofficial goal was 4:30. A high school buddy, Mark Dollard, lives in Telluride and had done it twice, and said from my running posts on FB, and the races I had done, he would expect me somewhere between 4 and 4:30. With the elevation profile and elevation period, I wasn't sure. I told Kim I would see him anywhere between 4 and 6 hours after the start. 

7:30 rolled around and the gun went off and the work started. It's unlike anything I had run before. It was cool, and dry, which I like, but it was 10 miles of climbing from 7800 to 13,100 feet, that's over a vertical mile!! And it slowly gets tougher as it approaches the top, it is a mountain of course. The last two miles climbing over 800 and 900 feet per mile. Then, you go down for the next 7 miles, dropping around 4800 feet on the descent. Looks like this!

Keith and I and Garick started out together for a few miles. Garick went on ahead, and I caught him at a couple of spots, then he would go on ahead again. Keith was lost behind me, but with the fact that he had little hill training available in Alabama, and had only gotten to Ouray 2 days before the race, I figured he might have trouble. 

We got going and the course was beautiful. Mostly shaded and cool. Wide jeep roads for most of it.

The Upper Camp Bird aid station has a timing mat, and a cutoff, so I knew that if I hoped for 4:30, I needed to be there around 2:05-2:10.  I arrived at 1:58 and was jazzed, thanking the volunteer who said "Good job Colin" reading my race bib. It was nice to hear your name, it means alot. I stopped only long enough for some gatorade, and headed on. Up till now I had only had 1/2 of a gel. I do horrible with nutrition. I ran into a guy who said "35 minutes", I said "35 minutes till what?" He said "the top"! I told him I didn't think so. We had 2.2 miles left of the toughest climbing we would see all day at the highest elevation, but good luck. I passed him about 5 minutes later.  He wasn't going to make it in 35 minutes.

I continued the grind up to the summit. It was tough, but not as tough as I was thinking it would be. Just constant Repetitive Forward Progress. One foot in front of the other. Honestly, from Upper Camp Bird to the Summit, I probably passed about 50 people, maybe more.
I was hiking pretty comfortably. I believe it was from my prior two weeks. My legs felt great, and my footfalls felt comfortable. I was wearing my Brooks Cascadia's - that had been blessed by Hillary Allen (https://hillygoat.wordpress.com/) when she sold them to me showed me how to tie them properly after winning Speedgoat 50K and breaking Anna Frost's record just a week earlier. She obviously had doubts about my abilities and it was questionable if she believed I could get to the top from her facial expressions, but I disregarded her doubts and tried anyways.


Kris did a great job taking the above pictures. I told her - get a pic of her helping me out, because she's going to be famous soon. She's coming through the ranks fast. What a nice young lady. Kris did a great job catching her making faces at me.  Awesome! 

Back to the race - I reached the summit around 3 hours in - about 10 minutes shy of my goal. I saw Gerick and took a picture of him by the sign. Great! I did a gravestone rubbing of the summit sign, got my picture next to it,
found Mark's wife Terri ( I was told to look for the pink wig ) who I gave a huge hug, and got on my way. I had been hydrating well, but probably too well for my descent. I get "sloshy" when I have too much in my belly, and though I had taken a S Cap earlier, and finished my gu, I just wasn't feeling it.  I was far from doing well with my nutrition and hydration, but figured if I could manage a 11 minute mile on the descent, I would be in around 4:17 and that would be awesome.  The first time my watch showed a lap after the summit it said 12:30. Crap! But then I figured that maybe it started just before the top or something and it included some of the climb. I'll push on and see what the next mile brings. 10:53, ok, lets keep going and get it back little by little.. And so it went.  It was almost too steep to walk, so I ran most of it, even parts where I would have rather walked. My stomach sucked, and it started getting warmer as we approached the bottom, but I held on. Near the top you pass an old mining ghost town (Tomboy), and it's pretty cool.

Near the bottom you can see the town coming into view in the valley below you, and her the announcer calling out names coming across the line. It flattens out, and I was absolutely spent. At the last corner I had a guy pass me, and then we got to the last straightaway and I started running again. I caught him and passed him, and he said "no you don't" and ran back in front of me. He got about 10 feet in front and I thought, hell, I am going to pass him just for fun. So I tried, gave it my all, pushed as hard as I could and went exactlty the same speed as I had been going. Nothing. I looked up at the clock and saw Kim next to it video'ing it with him camera. The clock said 4:12 something and the MC was calling out my name from SKEEOH NY (It's Scio, pronounced sy-oh), and Kim corrected him, which was funny. I crossed the line and did my typical walk it off for the next 5 minutes to catch my breath and keep from collapsing. https://vimeo.com/139733881 

Kim and I walked out onto Main Street - where I failed to see the "finish line" sign and get a picture under it. We jumped in Kim's truck and drove back to NY. Leaving at Noon Telluride time and arriving home at 9PM EST the next day, just 31 hours later, without stopping other than for fuel, food and a quick shower at a Pilot Truck Stop, which was amazing. Seriously. I won't hesitate to do that again. Best $12 I ever spent. 

It was a great race. I loved it. I beat my goal by 18 minutes, and going into it I would have been ecstatic with my original 4:30 goal. Mark texted me later and told me that I should feel great about that time. At the finish line I knew Keith was a ways back, and I didn't know how far, so I figured we had better go. I hoped he wasn't 10 minutes behind and I had missed him finishing for no real reason, but I also hoped he was 10 minutes behind and that he had gotten his goal of sub 5 hours. He texted me after he finished and said that he was probably at the Summit when I crossed the line. I thought he was joking, until I looked at the results and saw that he was at the summit at 4:05. He had a rough day. He said the climbing and the lack of acclimation just kicked his ass. I was lucky. Lucky to be out there for the time ahead, and lucky to live in a place where we actually can get some hill training. Maybe not anything with more than a mile of good climbing before there is a descent, but we have good hills. 

I would like to thanks everyone who helped me out. Kim, Mark and Terri, Keith, Heather, Hillary (Imogene is on her bucket list too!), TrailsRoc, Mort Nace - who told me at MedVed Madness that Imogene is also on his bucket list, Steve Chaffee, Rich Shear and my awesome family, who I hope I can get to crew me on some event soon. My love for them all runs so deep, I know that they'll be something to look forward to and keep me moving and positive, and anyone else out there who 
 helped or supported me. You all rock!

Next - Wineglass Half with Kris. then Wellsville Ridgewalk 15M. Then a couple of others before the year is up. I should have 25 races in 2015. Crazy stuff. Thanks for reading. 

2015 RACES
Frozen Assets Trail 4M 39:18
The Frozen Snot Trail 14.4M 6:20:25
Cast A Shadow SnowShoe 6 Laps (15 miles) 3:54:48
Sprague Brook Scramble Snowshoe 5M 55:39
Bristol Race to the Summit Snowshoe 1.9M 31:16
Cooks Forest Half 1:58:21
Mess the Dress Trail 5M 46:23
Hyner Challenge Trail 25K 4:32:42
Country Music Half 2:12:50
MedVed Madness Trail 15M 2:32:26
Crooked Creek Trail 13K 1:32:37
Sehgahunda Trail Marathon 6:11:15
Ontario Summit Trail Half 3:12:53
Canandaigua Classic Half 2:13:10
Gods Country Half 2:14:16
Tanglefoot Trail 20K 2:57:53
0SPF Trail Half 3:18:24
EVL Trail 9 1:28:45
Rocky Mountain Half 2:24:55
Dam Good Trail Half 2:10:11
Imogene Pass Run 4:11:41
Wineglass Half
Ridgewalk Trail 15M
Red Baron Half
TrailsRoc Winter Trail Fest 15M

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