Posted by: runwithgarrison | August 15, 2012

Skyline 50k after a rough July

Let me start this entry by saying congrats to my friend Zeke for running his first Ultra at the Skyline 50k this past weekend in Castro Valley. Zeke is a beast and showed no fear–running 4:52 and placing 29th overall!!! More on the Skyline 50k later in the post….

Just to get everyone up to speed since my last post. When I last wrote on June 21, training was going extremely well. I was knocking out workouts faster than last year and feeling really good. My mileage was in a nice spot around 80 per week and I felt healthy, strong, and confident. Then things started to unravel a bit. I found myself waking up in the middle of the night with deep pains in my legs that i had never really experienced before. I also would wake up with a lot of discomfort all over my body and found myself sleeping 12-14 hours several days a week. I cut way back on the training thinking maybe I just needed a little rest. It was time for a down week so that seemed like it would do the trick. Well, the rest only led to needing more rest and me feeling more and more tired. I still put some runs in to keep my sanity and balance but there was very little quality in there. I also took a bit of time off when P and I took a nice little vacation to the Big Island. Unreal trip!!! We had a blast, although P did accuse me on occasion of adding things to my running bucket list—she was right, I am now thinking it would be fun to run Mauna Loa and Mauna Kea–someday….The trip was a great break away from everything and I thought that upon our return that I would be able to get right back into the swing of things. I started to feel a little better but I still felt like something was wrong. Of course, I am stubborn and I was not ready to go see my Doc. I just kept listening to my aching and tired body until I finally hit a point where I was worried and exhausted…even though I was not running very much. The Skyline 50k was supposed to be the beginning of my Fall racing season and I was worried that I would not be able to finish the run if I started. So far I had run 8 ultras and finished them all, I did not want to add a DNF to the resume so I finally went to the Doc and he ordered up a bunch of blood work. Long story short, looks like I picked up a nasty virus and that it looked like it had run its course. My Doc, one of the strongest marathoners in Hawaii, said I would be fine to run but to be conservative and set reasonable expectations………

As a reference point, here are my weekly mileage totals since the last post. 38.37, 13.48, 40.64, 80.29, 43.2, 26.2, and 53.03 (race week).

So P and I talked about it and we decided that I would go run the race but that I needed to be conservative. I promised her that I would not push thru anything really nasty. The plan was to run with Zeke as long as I could. If he dropped me, I needed to just check my ego and play it safe. for historical reference, Zeke and I raced bikes and lived together while we were at UC Davis. He is one of the toughest guys I know. He can suffer with the best of them and I think he could be an outstanding Ultra Runner. Zeke is fit and I knew that keeping up with him was going to be a tough challenge.

At the start of the race, there were plenty of really fast guys on the line so I knew there would be the temptation to try and run faster than I was ready to run. To fight this urge, Zeke and I started off to the side and just chilled out for the opening miles. We used the time to catch up since we had not seen each other in over a year. The early miles went by relatively easy and we set a nice conservative pace. We were picking off people as we went along chatting the entire time. We were both feeling good but I was wondering how long the feeling would last. I had the doubts going thru my head in the days heading into the race. Had I lost my fitness? Was my strength gone? Was running this race a bad idea? I decided to treat it like a long training run and I figured that I was just really well rested…Trying to put a positive spin on it. During the race, I decided to focus on what I could control and live in the now.

About 10 miles into the race we made a pit stop and we were both feeling pretty decent. The day was starting to heat up as we ran along the beautiful East Bay trails. Around mile 13 or so, I started to feel a bit rough. Nothing brutal, I jsut started feeling the effort. I think from this point all the way to the finish, Zeke and I alternated feeling good and bad. Neither of us felt good at the same time and neither of us felt bad at the same time. This was a big positive because without even talking about it, one of us handled/pushed the pace while the other just held on–waiting to feel good again. Erik met us at the first Aid Stations and was awesome support! Blaine joined in about halfway thru and together they made the final Aid stations a major positive. Thanks Guys!!!

As we approached the 2nd to last aid station, I felt like the effort was getting to be possibly too much. I told Blaine at the Station that I was feeling pretty rough and that Zeke was running really, really well. Inside, I thought Zeke was going to run away from me at any moment and I would be forced to battle the last 8 miles on my own. I decided to take one mile at a time and started to do some math in my head about our pace. I figured out that if we could keep it together, we would run faster than my PR of 5:03 at Noble Canyon. With that realization, I knew I had to just take the bit in my teeth and ride this one out. I put a little distance on Zeke but that was all gone by the time we made it to the last Aid Station with 3 miles to go. I hit a rough patch and after the Aid station, Zeke put a bit of distance on me as we were heading around Lake Chabot to the finish. With about 2 miles to go, another runner passed me like I was standing still. HE quickly ran up to Zeke and Zeke briefly tried to hang on to the new pace. At that point, I knew that if we had any chance of finishing together, I needed to jsut accept the suffering and get after it. I ran to Zeke and then wound up putting a little distance on him. We both finished under 5 hours and in the top 30. I ran 4:50 for 27th place and Zeke ran 4:52 for 29th. I am very proud of our races, especially given the circumstances. What a blessing it was to run the race with such an awesome friend. I think we brought the best out of each other and Zeke, along with Blaine and Erik made the experience absolutely awesome. I am so very lucky and grateful to have such awesome friends!

Back here on Oahu, I am feeling pretty good. Much better than I did before the run and I am evaluating the rest of the Fall schedule and making some adjustments to the training plan. The key races for the rest of the rest of the year will be the Noble Canyon 50k in September and the Dick Collins 50M in October. Hopefully these also serve to set me up for a fast run at the Honolulu Marathon in December. I am still debating the Tantalus Triple Trek and Runner’s HI 20k on Labor day weekend. I might also run a few of the other Marathon Readiness Series races as training runs to test my fitness relative to last year. Of course, I will try to put in a decent showing at the IRun 25k Because they give me such awesome support!

I would also like to say thanks to Allen and Aaron at Skratch Labs. The drink mix has made a massive difference in my training and racing.

I think that is about it for now. I am still working on holding myself accountable. I have reached out to a few new training partners and I will be spending plenty of time on Tantalus and the Track.

I hope everyone is doing well and thanks for reading!!!!




  1. I knew something was amiss when you hadn’t posted for so long. Anyway, great job getting back into it. Congrats to both of you, Mike and Zeke!

    • Thanks Cuz! I am looking forward to a few more races this Fall. Curious to see if I can run faster at Noble Canyon and Dick Collins 50M this year after less volume this summer. Hope all is well.


  2. Great run, Michael! To tell you the truth, 50K felt like no big deal until the wheels came off with 3 miles to go.

    • Thanks Zeke! You made that run a really fun experience. Hopefully we can get together for a few more in 2013!

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