Road Running Trail Running Training

2019 in Review – February

HOM 100

February was when I figured I should get around to training for the 50k I had coming up in March. My first bigger mileage run was out at the annual Hom 100, a fantastic fundraising and awareness event for ALS that my friend Trevor puts on every year. It takes place on a 2-mile loop set up around his neighborhood, and you show up and run as many laps as you want. I did 21 miles (my longest run since Stagecoach) and had a lot of fun hanging out with all the running buddies there.

Hiking Miscellany Races Trail Running

2019 in Review – January

For a lot of reasons, I haven’t been blogging much lately. Over the next few days, I’m going to do a bunch of mini-posts to catch up on some of the notable things I did in 2019. Enjoy!

San Tan Scramble Volunteering

I started the year by volunteering at the San Tan Scramble with my running club, the San Tan Trail Runners. It was my first time volunteering for a full shift at a race, and it was a lot of fun.

Trail Running Training

Surviving Javelina Jundred: Tips from a Local Who Has Done the Race

In 2016, I ran the Javelina Jundred 100k. I’ve sent my race tips to friends getting ready to do the race several times since then, and I figured I should just go ahead and make this a formal blog post that I can link to, and maybe others searching the internet for race information might find it as well.

The Basics

Javelina Jundred is a 100k and 100 mile race that takes place at McDowell Mountain Park every October, the closest Saturday before Halloween. It is traditionally a hot and sunny race, as this tends to be a time of year when we don’t get much rain. While the nights have started their seasonal cooldown, the daytime is still pretty warm and tends to peak around 90º, give or take.

The race takes place mostly on the Pemberton Loop of the park, with detours on the west side along Shallmo Wash and Cinch Trail on the east that take runners down to “Jeadquarters” at the Four Peaks Staging Area. This forms a loop of approximately 19 miles that the 100k runners will do three times, and the 100 mile runners will do five (there is a variation in the first loop that adds a few miles to round out the total mileage for each distance). The loops are done “washing machine” style, which means that each loop you run is done the opposite direction of your previous loop.

When I trained for the race, I deliberately ran in the heat of the day to build up my heat acclimation and to figure out what my systems would need to be to survive the race. The things I did worked for me, and I took away some ideas for improvements I would make if I did the race again.

Here’s what I did, and what I learned.

Races Trail Running

2018 Flagstaff to Grand Canyon Stagecoach Line 100


It was 2014. Early that year, I ran my first half-marathon. Then, for the first time, I trained consistently with long runs through the summer. I started trail running. At group runs and races, I rubbed elbows with marathoners and… ultramarathoners? 

I had known of marathons for a long time, but ultramarathons were new to me. I had never even heard of people running 50 or 100 miles, and there I was, all of a sudden, meeting some of them. I was surprised at how normal they seemed. 

I finished my first Ragnar Trail, running my 15-mile share of the overall distance, and thought to myself, “I think I could probably do twice that, as part of an ultra team.”

And somewhere around that time, as I was stirring this soup of thoughts and ideas around in my brain, I stumbled across the movie “Finding Traction,” a documentary of Nikki Kimball’s attempt to set a new fastest known time traversing a 273-mile trail in the northeastern US. 

I was riveted. I had never seen anything like it. 

Over the course of her attempt, as I watched the miles and the days take their toll on her, something happened inside me that I have been utterly unable to explain to anyone who has asked why I do this. All I can say is that it happened. I watched her struggle through pain and fatigue and exhaustion, and her suffering called to me. I wanted to face something like that, to see how I would measure up against it.

That was how and when my dream to run a 100 mile race was born.

Hiking Training

My Worst Great Adventure: 24 Hours of the Prescott Circle Trail

When I ran Javelina Jundred 100k in 2016, the biggest surprise I had in graduating to that distance from 50k was what the last four, five, six hours felt like. I knew it wasn’t going to be fun, but I wasn’t ready for how not-fun it was going to be. And then when I ran Black Canyon 100k in 2018, I was again surprised—but this time it was by how much easier the back half of the race was, and I think it had a lot to do with knowing what to expect. 

So when I started planning the final training block for my first 100 mile race, I wanted to ensure as few unpleasant surprises as possible, and the biggest one I had my eye on was the final hours of the night. It’s a time that is well known for being the worst part of the race, and it makes runners drop. 

In my 100Ks, I had passed the 2 AM mark during the race and knew that I could manage that much okay. So it was really the stretch from 2 AM to sunrise that was my area of greatest concern. I didn’t know how it would hit me when it came, and I didn’t want the race to be when I found out for the first time.

Thus was born the idea for my last big training push for Stagecoach. I would go on a 24 hour hike. I chose hiking rather than running, because the point was “time on feet” rather than distance, and hiking would be less wear and tear on me. Running for 24 hours seemed to me like it would be the classic mistake of “running the race before the race.”

After I came up with this plan, I had to decide where to do it. I didn’t want to just repeat loops out at the local parks over and over, so I started looking around for ideas that sounded a little more interesting. I did a rough estimate of what the distance would be if I did 24 hours at a fairly comfortable pace (I was estimating between two and three miles per hour) and came up with a little over 50 miles. That gave me an idea to go do a thing I’d been wanting to do for a while: complete a circuit of the Prescott Circle Trail.

Races Trail Running

2018 Zane Grey 50: Analyzing My First DNF

This might read like a list of excuses, but that’s not what it’s meant to be. It also might read like some sort of extended self-flagellation, but that’s not what it’s meant to be, either. I made a lot of mistakes leading up to and during the race (only one of which was really out of my power to affect), so this is my post-race analysis of those mistakes, written with the intent of helping me to remember them so I don’t repeat them in the future.

For the record, I make mistakes in and around most of my races, but up until now I’ve managed to keep them from snowballing into a mess that takes me out. I just didn’t do that this time.


January 2018 San Tan Trail Runner of the Month

I’m not gonna make too big of a deal about this, but for several years I have been part of a running group that calls San Tan Mountain Regional Park their home, and they recently began spotlighting members on a monthly basis. I was voted the San Tan Trail Runner of the Month for January 2018. It was super cool to get, and many kind words were said about me by the friends I’ve made out there.

This is the little bio about myself that I shared as part of the spotlight. I said some things in there that are important to me and have been on my mind for a while, but I hadn’t previously expressed.

Races Trail Running

2016 Javelina Jundred 100k

I don’t know how I’m going to do another 20 miles.

I said more than that, but it seemed like that was where my pacer, Lisa, got worried and stopped listening. I was actually trying to be a little inspirational, leading with a complaint, but finishing with resolution. Instead, I shot wide of the mark and made her nervous about how I was feeling just as we were about to get going together. 

In fairness, being concerned about me was a totally justified response. I was a little over 41 miles into the Javelina Jundred 100K. It had been a long, hot day, and the sun had set two hours ago. I had come into the main aid station after two loops of the course, with one more to go, and that was where we were meeting up. Nobody told me at the time, but apparently I looked pretty rough.

I wasn’t feeling great. I had crossed the threshold of the longest distance I had ever done at mile 33 and had been moving into uncharted territory ever since. I was tired and surprised at how much my feet hurt, and how sore my lower back was. It seems dumb in retrospect, but I had thought that sore feet was a thing I’d just gotten over experiencing. I couldn’t remember the last time my feet hurt just from running on them.

I wasn’t looking forward to the next several hours.

Trail Running Training

Getting Through It

So my last post was fairly grim, but it was meant to be. Running a lot in the heat is lousy. I talk to other runner friends who tell me that they have gone out and trained in the afternoons during the summer for long stretches like it’s no big deal, and all I can think is that they’re either way, way tougher than me or that they’re better liars.

I did it and I got through it, but I hated it. It wasn’t so much that I hated it while I was out there doing it (because my brain just shifts into “get it done” mode once I’ve started—this is the real reason why you train, folks), but I dreaded going out. I mentioned in the last post that I was skipping most second-day runs, and that just continued. I never did get much better at dragging myself out early for a Sunday morning run after a long, hot Saturday.

But this is the thing I want to talk about.I didn’t just keep doing the same thing. I took a break from that, and it made the rest bearable.

Trail Running Training

My Fall-Apart Week(s)

I don’t know how I’m going to do this.


I’ve thought that before. I know I have. I get deep into a training cycle for a big race, and then I hit a point where everything goes to hell. Something that’s been working stops working. Social obligations keep interfering. Some part of my body starts to hurt in a way that isn’t normal. Whatever it is triggers a collapse that’s a combination of both mental and physical. My carefully-made plans for training fall to pieces.

(Oh, who am I kidding? My training plans are never planned carefully!)

Usually I get there and I think, “This has happened before. I can get through it.” And by the time I get to race day, it’s a distant memory that I’ve glossed over in my mind. I proudly recall training for my race. I grunted through the pain, figured out how to make it work, and persevered. I forget that along the way, I nearly broke.

But this one feels different. I don’t feel like I’m “nearly” breaking, I feel like I’m broken. I need to say it so I remember it, because I can just about guarantee it won’t be the last time I feel like this.