(But forewarning that I may indulge in one more post-race retrospective blog)
Antelope Island Buffalo Run 50-Mile and the Surprise I Promised in the Last Blog
This is the last in a series of occasional training blogs recording my training progress toward my goal of completing the Zion 100 on April 8-9, 2016, in support of the College of Law’s 100-100 initiative. The first blog recorded a Mt. Timpanogos Run on October 4. The second recorded the 9th annual “Trans-Wasatch” Run on October 25th, an informal group run starting somewhere on the Salt Lake side of the Wasatch Range and ending at an appropriate place for refreshments in Summit County. The third described my completion of the Antelope Island Fall 50K on November 14. The fourth described my Mt. Kilimanjaro hike with my family, hardly a serious “training run,” but at 19,341 feet above sea level, the highest peak in Africa, and the mountain with the fourth largest base to summit gain in the world, still a reasonably good test of fitness and endurance. The fifth blog post described the Moab “Red Hot” 55K in February (yes, on Valentine’s Day weekend).
My last major goal was the Buffalo Run 50-mile race on March 19. I highlighted the race series sponsored by Buffalo Run Adventures after the fall 50K, but the spring Buffalo Run has become one of the most popular trail races anywhere, and definitely the largest in Utah, with 25K, 50K, 50M and 100M versions: http://www.buffalorunadventures.com/buffalo-run/. It is another annual favorite of mine.
I chose the 50-miler this year because I needed one run with a lot of miles, with aid stations to eliminate complicated logistics, and a lot of runnable terrain. (To those not familiar with trail ultras, all but elite runners walk at least the steepest hills. Different courses have more or less climbing versus terrain that you can run comfortably, and where the dividing line is depends on your fitness and ability.) The 50-mile course has some hills, but long stretches of flat or gently rolling terrain, which I thought would be good training for Zion (which has some significant climbs, but also a lot of more runnable mileage).
I also told myself I would treat this as a training run and not a “race.” My plan was to pace myself well and finish in 10 hours (about a 12-minute per mile pace overall). I finished in 9:58, almost exactly on target, although I did sag a bit in the final few miles, so I actually had to run hard the last mile to beat that completely artificial 10-hour goal. (Yes, we trail runners can be a bit goal-oriented, if not OCD.) I was again surprised that this was good enough for second place in my age group, although the guy who beat me did so by an hour and a half!
Shout-Outs to our students and surprise announcement
Last month I hinted that I would have a surprise announcement in this final blog, along with some shout-outs and other thanks. Many of our students here at the College of Law have been highly supportive of our efforts, particularly Tyler Bugden, Will Edwards, Anabel Alvarado, Connor Plant, Thomas Kessinger and Mike Squires. They have arranged to pace me during some of the tough, final miles of the race (see photo below of some of us after a training run). And, they organized a spectacular 100-mile relay “Spirit Run (or walk)” by students, faculty, staff and other supporters on Thursday, April 7 from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m., starting in front of the east entrance to the new law school building: http://law.utah.edu/news/law-students-organize-100-mile-spirit-run-to-support-deans-ultra-marathon-for-100100-initiative/. This is a spectacular show of school and community spirit, and everyone in the College of Law community is welcome to come walk or run one or more mile-long loops through the U of U campus.
(Left to right) Bob Adler, Mike Squires, Connor Plant, Tyler Bugden, Thomas Kessinger.
I also want to express my sincere thanks to our entire External Relations Team at the law school (development, events, media), which is arranging for a lot of support, including a “tailgate party” after the race at Virgin Town Park from 4 – 6 p.m. on Saturday, April 9. If you want to join us, please RSVP to firstname.lastname@example.org or call 801-587-0059. Just don’t expect me to be all that mobile at the time!
Progress toward the Zion 100 goal
The Zion 100 mile run is now upon me (just one week away as I complete this blog). People keep asking if I am ready, and my answer is: “as ready as I will be!” At this point, it is as much of a mental as a physical game. My plan is to “dial it back” as much as possible early in the run to reduce the chance I will bonk (per perhaps more accurately, to defer any bonks until as late in the race as possible). I am reasonably well trained physically, and both excited and motivated, so I am looking forward to next week and as optimistic as possible going into an event like this.
Last, but not least, until now I have avoided the temptation in these blogs to push the scholarship fundraising aspect of this effort. Ultimately, however, I am doing this for our students. Thus far, the 100-100 pledge campaign has raised more than $130,000 in new scholarship funding for our students, toward our goal of $250,000 overall. If you want to help us to meet that goal, please go to http://www.law.utah.edu/100-100/100-100-challenge/.
And wish me luck!