Monday, October 13, 2014

Skyrunning: The Highest Footrace in Arizona

Flagstaff Sky Race - US Skyrunning Championships
I am ecstatic to have won the inaugural US Skyrunning Ultra Series. It has been a tremendous experience thanks to the support from my wife, family, and my sponsors Run Steep Get High Mountain Running Team and Carbopro. Also, a huge kudos to the race directors involved in the series for making it memorable for everyone and often putting up their own cash for the top 3 awards at each race.
The top 3 in the Ultra series (Myself 1st, Sage Canaday absent as 2nd, and Dan Kraft 3rd).
Photo: Aravaipa Running
As the overall U.S. series winner my prize is to select a 2015 World series Skyrunning competition with expenses paid! On the 2014 world stage I rank 9th overall (4th in the U.S.) for Men's Ultra Skyrunning based on my performance at the two U.S. races Speedgoat and The Rut.

I look forward to seeing US Skyrunning grow for its coming 2nd year. And, since my entries will be paid I highly expect to compete again. Suggestions are welcome on which world series race to choose.


As I continue to reflect and learn from each race this season the Flagstaff Sky Race was no different. My biggest lesson learned - to better prepare my mental game. 

In the previous three Skyrunning races I entered the race without expectation or pressure regarding placement results. My mind was relaxed and focused on moving me through the course. 
A controlled, comfortable pace near the beginning.
Photo: Aravaipa Running
Looking back on my Flagstaff race: I ran smart. I saved my legs for the final climb. I took my time to come back from a spill around mile 12. I stayed hydrated and nourished.

But, I failed to calm the mounting stress in my head self-imposed from being unaccustomed to the spotlight, post spill adrenaline flush, and incorrectly focusing on what I had to prove. The mental stress played out through being tense and then an upset stomach starting just after mile 26. My discomfort grew as I began the grind up the final 6 mile climb. Two miles up I took a brief glance behind me to check for closing competitors and then stopped and retched. 
Just after retching. Suffering up Powerline climb.
Photo: Jamil Coury, Aravaipa Running
My stress dissolved as now my focus narrowed to just moving forward to finish. 

Now calorie deficient I sipped on my bottle of CarboPro. At the last aid station I took two cups of ginger ale. I departed and began making progress up the final 2000' climb. Relief came slowly but steadily.
Final aid station before the 2000' climb. Still recovering from an upset stomach.
Photo: Aravaipa Running
Passed along the way I slipped to 3rd. I glanced back and did not see another. Now to hold 3rd through the climb and to the finish.  

Near the top of the final Agassiz climb (~11,250ft).
Photo: Ian Sharman, US Skyrunning
 I did.

Overcoming challenges during my Flagstaff Sky race was representative of my season. At Cruel Jewel, the first race in the series, I stubbornly persisted to overcome a calf injury and place 1st. At Speedgoat and The Rut I focused on showing up to the races healthy and then enduring through the physically challenging races. Here at Flagstaff I am thankful to have the grit to finish 3rd.

I am overjoyed to have run strongly through my first significant ultra running season and demonstrated that persistence pays.
Happy to be done! Photo: Aravaipa Running
Up next: Javelina Jundred, Phoenix, AZ. November 1st. Tune into Ultra Sports Live.TV
My goal: Under 15 hours.

And...watch out for a new label coming to town: Trailhead Beer Company.
Headed up by my good friend Nick Irvine in Flagstaff, AZ!