Week of August 22 - 28 (UTMB)

UTMB 2016

Welcome to Chamonix! Last week was an intense mix of work and pleasure. I was over in France to create daily videos of UTMB, the largest ultra running festival in the world. As part of my press credentials I was also able to get an entry bypass for one of the smaller races, the OCC (Orsières - Champex - Chamonix). The entire event was a huge success but absolutely wiped me out - an endurance event not far off the Direttissima! You really need to experience something like this first hand to comprehend the magnitude - the crowds, the mountains, the enthusiasm. It was like nothing I had ever experienced before. Here's how it unfolded: 

Monday: Arrived in the late morning after doing the 18 hour commute from my house. All I wanted to do was sleep off the jet lag but I motivated to walk around town and experience the building atmosphere as the town prepped for the crowds. 


Tuesday: My goal for the day was to get in a trail run so I went up to the Refuge Plan de l'Aiguille and north across the Mont Blanc Balcony over to the Mer de Glace. It was the perfect  hike / run to experience the popular trails accessible right out of Chamonix. It did leave me wanting more though. I'd love to get back and do some bigger days that take you further out of town. 

Wednesday: It was an early day - 4:15 wake up on a couple hours of sleep getting the trail running edit finished. We had to meet at 4:45 at the press building to get our ride to Courmayeur. The TDS race that we were following is a 119 mile race with 7,250m of vert. A beast that had a relentless climb in the middle that the runners approached midday with nowhere to hide from the sun. We stopped at several aid stations and the views were incredible. It was a good practice run to see what it's like following one of these races. Here's the video from that day: 


Thursday: Another tough morning - In bed at 2:30 and up at 4:15 to catch a 5am bus. But first I had to get an emergency blanket (a required provision for the races). I went to the finish line and the first guy I saw finish I went over and said "congratulations, can I have your emergency blanket?" - Marco the Italian who was finishing his TDS race kindly gave me his blanket and I scrambled back to my room because I had forgotten my key. I'll write a separate race report for this day but here's the video: 

Friday: The main event. Luckily this race starts at 6pm so I was able to get some sleep to make up from the past few nights. I spent the morning editing and had lunch with Nick Yardley of Julbo and a drink with a couple I had met who are from Silver Lake, NH (awesome to see some NH folk!). But I was scrambling to handle some last minute gear packing and the press was meeting at 5pm - it's 0.6 miles from my accommodations to the press building and I think I made that trip 4 or 5 times that afternoon carrying too much gear. I had an idea of the shots I wanted for the start - in the corral then go get some overhead drone shots. Now I knew that I might catch some heat for flying above a crowd this big, especially with tight security but I figured my press pass would get me out of any trouble. My hands were shaking as the drone hovered near the upper balconies. I got the shots I wanted and as I was flying back police officer flanked me and were not pleased. They asked for papers and all I had was my press credential. They took that and were on the radios trying to figure out what to do. It was 6:05 and I had to be at my van at 6:15. They tried to get in touch with the press organizer but weren't having any luck. Now it's 6:10. I'm starting to realize that they aren't going to take my gear but could potential delay me long enough that I miss my ride to the first location. I didn't exactly study the logistics of where we were going and figured if I missed that first ride I was screwed. 6:15, they tell me they are keeping my credentials, essentially a slap on the wrist. I run to the meeting location and catch the vans at they are loading up. I ask a passenger to wait TWO MINUTES while I grab my luggage. I put my cameras in the back and run to the building a few hundred feet away. When I get back they are GONE. You can imagine how I was feeling at that point. Now without cameras and holding my two bags wondering what to do - I see one of the press organizers and they don't know what to do. Luckily there was another press buss that stopped and picked me. They were going to the same place. Crisis adverted. It was still confusing to figure out which van had my gear - find the driver, walk the half mile to where they were parked. Then find my new driver and move my luggage. A wild start to the race but it was smooth for the rest of the race. Here's the footage: 


Saturday: UTMB Con't - Well almost everything was smooth. I wasn't sure what to shoot for the finish. I caught the first finisher then hiked up the course a little to watch the next few guys. Then hustled back to my room and pack a back to hike up to La Flegere where I had big dreams of getting the alpenglow time lapse off Mount Blanc, a NEMO tent shot under the stars, and a few more action shots. There's also a restaurant called La Floria which runners cross the seating deck. As I'm hiking up it starts thundering. I check the weather forecast and it's calling for severe thunderstorms. No one had mentioned this. Basically it killed all my shots and I was forced to run down an access road in the rain / darkness. I tried. To cap that off, I was shooting finishers in the rain and my battery died but usually the camera saves the file. Nope, not tonight. So I ended up missing a lot of my finish shots but learned a few things in the process. These run and gun shoots are challenging and this stuff happens. In general everything was executed well on my end, especially getting the edits up before the next day, a big challenge.

Sunday: The next morning I packed up and checked out of my room. I lugged my massive amounts of gear over to the press building and caught a little bit of the press conference before getting on my 11am bus to the airport. Unfortunately I caught some food poisoning (could have been ANYTHING from Saturday) that made getting home the biggest endurance feat of the trip!

Hopefully I can go back next year and do more vacationing and less work. I'll have the points to do OCC / CCC / TDS so we'll see how that lottery selection goes. But as far as a work destination goes it will be hard to beat.  

Week of May 23 - 29

Run Mode.

Northern view from summit of Mount Chocorua.

With the door on the 15/16 ski season finally shut, and a bike race & triathlon behind me, I'm just now able to focus 100% on running. Last summer I focused on triathlon and ultra training which definitely hurt my running. Wait, isn's ultra training "running"? Depends how you train - I focused only on distance and skipped a lot of the speed/tempo training. The local weekly fun runs helped a little but I strayed from the speed / temp / long run format and focused only on miles that were generally long and slow. The quality of my runs was also compromised with the addition of swimming and biking. This summer I'm working on consistency with quality workouts and less junk miles. I'll also still be biking and swimming throughout the summer as cross-training but always secondary to my run workouts. 

This week I was able to jump up from 43 miles to 67 miles. This included a decent track workout, a lot of vert, and a bunch of junk miles split up into multiple 5-mile runs. I was focused on mileage but next week I'm looking to consolidate my running to a track workout on Tuesday, tempo on Thursday, and long run on Saturday or Sunday.  Less than two weeks until my next race. Been a while since I ran a 10k race!

In addition to the running, I also got in a bike ride, short swim, and a hike up / run down Chocorua. Check out the video below.

Stats:
Run: 67.2 mi | 5,436' | 9hr 14min
Bike: 20.4 mi | 1hr 4min
Hike: 8.3 mi | 2,900' | 2hr50min
Swim: 15min | 0.6mi

Week of May 9 - 15

Feeling the weekend! Another excellent week outside that included the most enjoyable training weather so far this spring. Highlights included Crank the Kanc bike race, my first long run since February, and testing out my drone on Mt. Willard. 

Running: My math was way off. I thought my Strava mileage on Saturday had me at 25 miles so including the Albany Town Forest run I was sure I needed to get in 20 miles on Sunday in order to hit 50. I'm thankful for the mistake or else I wouldn't have gotten such a quality run in yesterday! With a ski day and a bike race scheduled for this week I knew my mileage was going to be difficult to make up. My 50 mile goal I set this week was ambitious and I almost knocked it down to 40 but figured I could make up miles with a longer run on Sunday.  So aside from missing speed work this week, the 20 mile run with 13 of those miles under 7min pace, I'm very happy with my run fitness. This week I'll be focusing more on speed this week with a track workout and 5k tempo effort and probably land around the same mileage since the King Pine Tri is Saturday and I'll need to recover for that race. 

Skiing: The season isn't over just yet! We had a great outing on Wednesday and I skied with Hilary and Mark Wallace up at Tuckerman Ravine getting runs in on Left Gully, The Chute, and Headwall. Here are some photos:

Mark Wallace of Parlor Skis (Left Gully)

Mark Wallace (Headwall)

And lastly, I got a DJI Phantom 4 drone and was dying to test it out. It arrived around 3:30pm on Friday and after charging the battery I was out the door at 5:30pm and headed up to Crawford Notch. There wasn't much time to get up high - Initially I thought Carrigain would have been a good option or the Presidentials but I had an hour of light to work with. Mt. Willard seemed like a no-brainer and Squall and I cruised up and made this video. I love the perspective and dynamic footage it adds. I need a lot more experience to figure out the shots though - aerial footage can get stale if not done properly. Extra motivation to get in the mountains though and capture more great experiences.

 


Stats:
Run: 56 mi | 4,193'
Bike: 46.2 | 2hr 24min | 3,478'
Backcountry: Tuckerman's | 4,669'
Hike: Mt Willard

Week of May 2 - 8

Shifting Gears.

Andrew Drummond harvesting corn in the Great Gulf Wilderness. Photo: CJ Congrove.

With Alaska in the rearview I anticipated this week to focus on running and biking since I have a couple upcoming races the next two weekends - Crank the Kanc (May 14) & King Pine Triathlon (May 21). But I honestly have little drive to bike these days, especially when there's still skiing to be had (see this post, re: multisport triage). It's hard to get motivated for these events with so little training heading in. I'm sure I'll still do well but last year I made the goal of putting in more miles on the bike after the Inferno and that just hasn't happened. It goes back to what I realized last week - pare down the sports / events to the ones that really have a place in your calendar or that you'll benefit from. I still think I'll enjoy both of these upcoming races though and i'll go into each more relaxed. Anyway, on to this week.

I spent this week getting my running legs back under me. It's not that I lost a ton of run fitness but my run muscle were mostly dormant while in AK. I was also still kicking a lingering cold that seemed to power up on the return flight (feeling better as I type this!). So getting in 50 miles this week seemed like it would be a chore but came fairly easy. I resumed my speed training at the track doing 800/400 repeats and ran them well. This week I signed up for the Market Day Square 10k for some extra training motivation.

And ski season continues to roll on! Didn't think I'd still be hustling to get up to the mountains but a friend I met a few weeks ago at Airplane Gully rallied to go check off Pipeline and Jefferson Ravine. I was more interested in seeing what Jefferson had to ski but I also wanted to get a top to bottom run on Pipeline, hopping the two chokes and stopping at the icefall. Well there was still plenty of snow on Pipeline, less than last time but the chokes had lost considerable amounts of snow and without much ski action they weren't filled in (the sluff builds up making it easy to navigate these sections). I stopped and scoped out the top one and after CJ's sluff accumulated it looked doable. Unfortunately, I was timid and in the backseat resulting in an epic crash. With just a nick to the nose I skied away unscathed. We hike back out and moved on to Jefferson which was two miles away. The weather was perfect so it was an enjoyable slog. At Jefferson we were disappointed by how little snow was left in the snowfields and thought we were skunked by the absence of snow in Stealth Gully. We followed the Edmand's Col Cut-off trail around the northeast aspect of Jefferson Ravine to find a couple ribbons of snow left that were corned up nicely! It was rewarding to get those turns in after a sizable effort getting there. We only had time for a run and some photos before opting to descend via the Caps Ridge Trail. We knew we weren't taking the easy way down and carrying skis made it much more difficult as we smashed into rocks and trees most of the way down. On top of that we still had to get back to the Cog Base Station via Jefferson Notch Road (still closed), boundary cutoff, Jewel Trail, and then ditch our packs at Base Station Road and run the remaining 0.4 miles back to our cars. Worth the effort and I don't think I'd do it any differently given the situation. 

Looking on to next week I'm planning on hitting 50 miles, a big ski day in the Great Gulf, and the Crank the Kank race!

Stats: 
Run: 49.9 | 5,082'
Bike: 45 min (trainer)
Backcountry: Clay / Jefferson | 5,866'

 

Quick Ski off the Cog Railway

This is my brief attempt at updating my training / racing. There hasn't been much to report on racing but I'll backdate some reports and training weeks shortly. The focus right now has been quality training across all disciplines (running, biking, skiing) and I'm significantly ahead of where I was last year at this time. For now I'll just share this video: