Training in the Pyrenees for Hardrock 100

My June has been absolutely crazy. We went to Pocatello on 31 May for Pocatello 50 the following day. I had a tough race battling stomach issues that prevented me from eating for most of the race. I ended up only taking in ~1200 calories during a 50 mile race so I was literally ‘running on fumes’. We drove home from Pocatello late Saturday as I had a red eye flight to Toronto (via Atlanta) on Sunday. After a busy 2 days of client meetings, I flew back to SLC on a very early flight Wednesday (getting up at 3:30AM MT). I was home 2 nights, then we went to San Diego for Emily’s fantastic SD100 run. Another night of no sleep on Saturday as I paced her the final 50 miles and through the night and the lack of sleep was starting to catch up with me (that was 4 nights with no or less than 4 hours of sleep in 8 days. I was completely exhausted on Sunday after SD100. We had a 1 hour drive from the race finish to our hotel and I had to stop half way through to nap as I could not stay awake. 2 more naps that day and 10 hours of sleep Sunday night and I was feeling good. We had a great day at Tourmaline beach on Monday where I got in a few hours of surfing, then another super early morning to catch a 6AM PT flight back to SLC for work. When I got off the plane on Tuesday morning, I had a voicemail from work saying we needed to be in London for client meetings on Thursday and Friday. I scrambled most of Wednesday to figure out travel plans. Since I already had a flight to London for meetings the 24-27 June, when I did some cost comparison, it would save $4,500 of airfare if I stayed the week. Looking at my training schedule, this was my peak week of training for Hardrock. Staying in London was not an option. I had to either fly home to train, which meant 4+ full days of travel with poor sleep in 18 days or find places to train in Europe. I didn’t have time to figure this out before leaving the US so I packed a bag of work cloths and a bag of running gear and off I sent on a 7:30AM flight on Wednesday morning getting ready for night #5 of little to no sleep in a short period of time. The meetings in London were busy and I could not get out of my head that I had no idea what I was going to do the following week to train while still having to work full time. I had a few minutes on Thursday to send out emails to friends in Andorra, Chamonix, and Gemma in the Pyrenees. Finally after work on Friday, I was able to weed through everything and start looking at transportation options. It looked like flying to Barcelona and renting a car and driving and running through the Pyrenees would be cheapest and logistically the easiest. I left London Saturday afternoon and after trains, planes, and automobiles (order changed to reflect the order I travelled), I arrived in Figueres Spain at around 9:30PM. Having no clue where to run and what was next, I sat down for dinner and started searching for options. My plans were starting to come together. I would run west of Figures in Parc Natural de la Zona Volcanica de la Garrotxa on Sunday. On Monday, I would get up early and drive north and run a route that connects the village to Tapis to a ridging trail separating Spain and France. I didn’t know what was going to happen past that other than I had to be somewhere northwest where Gemma lived on Wednesday.



Inside the crater of Volca de Santa Margarida in Parc Natural de la Zona Volcanica de la Garrotxa.

Sunday’s run was brutal. I needed ~25 miles and I wasn’t able to find anything that long to put together so I found 3 separate loops of ~8 miles. The weather was hateful. It was 33C (mid 90s) and very humid (around 80%). By the end of the second run I was a complete wreck. I took about 1 hour rest and hydrated as much as possible, then went back out to suffer through another 8. It was not a fast day, but I got the miles in and it was good adversity training. It is hard to run fast when you don’t know where you are or where you are going so that has been continually frustrating.

Sunday Stats: 23.05m / 3433′ climbing / 4:43


I returned to Figueres starved and ordered a feast. It was actually an accident. I ordered Duck, Octopus, and Anchovies from the tapas menu. I assumed they would be small, but I cleaned my plates.


After saying up too late catching up with work and planning Monday, I once again didn’t get enough sleep (I had not had 8 hours of sleep in a single night since the prior Sunday). After breaky, I made the beautiful drive up the winding mountain roads to the village of Tapis and set out on a hard run that was steep and technical. This was going to be an out and back hopefully to Refuge de les Salines and back. As usual, I had troubles finding the route (even with the route on my Suunto Ambit), but enjoyed the long, technical climb followed by great ridge running. It was only 19C when I started, but it quickly warmed up and I was out of water 2 miles from the end and cooked.


Beautiful running along the ridge where I jumped between Spain and France.


Looking at the snowcapped French Pyrenees peaks

I started and ended the run at Restaurant i Pensio Can Mach and treated myself to a huge platter of roasted wild boar and another platter of french fries when I finished the run. Then it was back to Figueres by 1PM to settle into working the US daytime hours.

Monday Stats: 16m / 4570′ climbing / 4:16


Another meal of Octopus and Anchovies accompanied with a salad for dinner on Monday.


It was time to start heading west. I had talked to Gemma on Monday and found out she lived in a small village outside of Puigcerda. Looking at the map, I decided to stay about ½ way between Figueres and Puigcerda. I leave early on Tuesday morning and arrived at an 11th century farmhouse converted to hotel that I had found on This place was great (and cheap). I worked the rest of the afternoon, then went for an out and back run on the GR-11 trail which traverses the Pyrenees from the Atlantic to the Mediterranean (this would be a great running trip to run this entire trail from 1 village or refuge to the next).


Great panoramic view from my run

Tuesday was an easy day: 8.25m / 1,900′ climbing / 1:33


I got up early again on Wednesday (with a little bit of a hangover thanks to a British couple staying at the hotel) and had a great run planned going east on GR-11. I was able to run from the hotel and it would be another out and back with lots of climbing. It was a wet morning, but as the sun started burning off the clouds, it was beautiful.


GR-11 Trail in the morning sun


After cooking on Sunday, I cut the sleeves off my shirt and was much more comfortable

I finished my run, then drove to Puigcerda to work from a cafe for the day until I would meet Gemma that evening. The drive to Puigcerda was amazing. A true mountain road with hundreds of switchbacks in the 40 km drive. I felt like I was in another world and loving every minute of it. After that drive, I vowed that at some point in my life, Emily and I will live in the Pyrenees for a period of time.

Gemma and I met around 6, then picked up groceries and off to her house where I would stay with her family for a few days. At the grocery store we immediately ran into Alfons Gason. Alfons raced the Powder Keg back when it was a World Cup event and knows several friends in Park City and Colorado. He immediately agreed to take us both on run on Thursday morning. He promised it would be great. We had a typical Spainish dinner that got over around 11pm and soon it was after 12 and we had to be up at 7.

Wednesday stats: 10m / 3,000′ climbing / 2:22


The route Alfons had planned would be a loop to the top of Masella ski resort and back by trails that are not normally taken. Alfons set a fast climbing pace and Gemma and I set in behind him to do the best we could to keep up.


Gemma, Alfons, and myself at the first Pass

Before reaching the top, the weather turned and we found ourselves in a snow storm. It was hard to believe that after getting cooked on Sunday and Monday, I was not freezing cold in the snow.


The approaching snow storm on awesome trails. Our destination is the peak in the background.


Awesome cross country running – this is Hardrock training!

I was working by noon and when I was done working at 8, Gemma and I met a couple people for a beer followed by another typical Spanish dinner at 10:30 PM. Dinner was amazing, Gemma’s grandma collects wild mushrooms from the mountains so we had sautéed mushrooms made into an omlette with salad, pasta, bread, and a type of wild celery that her mom collects from the mountains and is AMAZING. Before we knew it, it was 11:45 and we had to be up again at 7:15.

Thursday stats: 8.4m / 4,375′ climbing / 2:26


Morning came early. Both Gemma and I were tired. After breakfast and a couple cups of coffee, we were out the door to drive to the village of Martinet where Gemma used to teach. We had a great loop planned from Martinet to Biexec to Estana to Estana to Bastanist and back to Martinet. It would be about 12.5 miles with just over 3,000′ climbing. Gemma would do 1 loop with me, then I would do another one reverse while she did some work. The run was once again amazing with a climb to Estana, descent to Biexec, then another long climb out.


On the pass after Biexec


Gemma running down into Bastanist


Chad running down to Martinet

The run went great with only getting off track a few times. We were lucky to avoid any bad weather.

Friday Stats: 26.5m / 6,250′ climbing / 5:50


We were up at 5AM and on the road to Andorra to catch the Wasatch crew (I am including Ty as an extended Wasatch person) at the 130KM aid station at Ronda del Cims race. Ronda del Cims is probably the hardest 100m/170km race in the world. Due to snow and weather changes, the race turned into 179KM and 12,000M ascent (39,400′). It would be great to see Jared Campbell, Ben Lewis, Ty Draney, and Roch Horton as they conquered this race.


Ty, Jared, and Ben leaving Pas de les Casa

The 3 of them had been running together and were finding power in numbers on this tough course. We saw them at here, then again 8 miles later. They were looking better the second time having presumably gained some energy from the sun of the new day.

We went on our own run on a section of the course enjoying the, once again, epic views.


After our first run, Roch still had not come through so I decided to run back on the trail and catch up with him. I ran a ways past Portello Blanca and decided it was well past time to turn around and headed back to meet Gemma (I was very late at this point). The views were great, the course was super difficult, but it was fun to see. I was sorry to have missed Roch.


The descent into Pas de les Casa. They dug out the trail in the snow and roped it. There were many sections like this


The trail coming past Portello Blanca

2 Run combined stats: 11.24/ 3,470 / 3:11

Full Week Stats:

  • Miles Run: 103.45
  • Vertical Climbed: 26,993′
  • Total Training Time: 24:22

After an exhausting day (and week), took a short afternoon siesta in order to have some energy for going out on my last night in Spain. Gemma had arranged us to meet some friends (Mireia Miró – the super fast skimo racer, Arnau Anguera – one of the Spanish Skimo Team coaches, and Txiqui Solano a cycling friend). We had drinks, the typical 11PM dinner, then off to a pub for another drink after dinner. From my standpoint it was a late night – leaving the bar at 1PM, but for Spanish standards, it was an early night.

I can’t thank Gemma and her family enough for their amazing hospitality in letting me stay at their house and putting up with a crazy American who showed up and would run all morning, work all afternoon, and then get up and do it again the next day.

I fly back to London on Sunday noon and we start working Sunday evening to get ready for client meetings next week. It has been a great week of training while still being able to get my work done. I could not have asked for anything better for a Hardrock preparation week.

San Diego 100 08-09 Jun 2013 – Buckle #8 and 100 mile PR

I decided to run SD100 after hearing a number of my friends (Roch, Mindy, Mark, etc.) rave about their experiences. Neither Chad or I have flown to a 100 miler before but with the thoughts of a 100 mile race then a day at the beach was very enticing.

I spent the whole winter skiing and really not running. At the beginning of March my longest run in the calendar year was 9 miles. The 3rd week of March a business trip took me to San Diego and I decided to extend my trip a couple days to check out the course. Roch introduced me to Scotty Mills, the race director, and gave me some great recommendations for where to run during my time out there. I decided to run the “Sunrise Loop” which is a 29 mile loop the first day. That was pretty lofty considering my low mileage so I decided to take it very easy. I was armed with maps and turn by turn directions from Scotty. I had a great day on the course even though it was a very hot day and I did run out of water in the end. I then ran with Scotty’s crew on Saturday morning. They had a 34 mile run planned on the PCT and I tried to hang on for 11 miles and then decided to turn around and head back to my car. Scotty was kind enough to give me a ton of beta about the course and the race and I left armed to plan my training.

I trained for this race differently than any other 100 miler. I don’t consider myself a fast runner or even a runner for that matter sometimes. I also set a very aggressive goal for myself. I knew that if I ran an extremely smart race and didn’t have any part of my body fall apart at all I could maybe get a under 24 hour finish. It had never been a goal of mine to get under 24 hours because I never thought it would be possible. It became my mantra “SD100 under 24”. I also determined my training schedule had to include a ton of running rolling hills and flatter terrain. I will say this was hard for me to “make” myself run so much and not climb this hills that I so love to climb, but I had a goal and I had to get ready to run, run, run as much as I possibly could.

2013 San Diego 100

Great Ultra Runner Motto Posted at the Starting Line


San Diego 100 Elevation Profile

Chad and I flew to San Diego on Friday morning and after a couple grocery stops got up the Laguna Mountains. It was extremely hot. During the pre-race meeting Scotty emphasized how hot it was going to be and to be very smart about keeping cool, hydrated, salt consumption, etc. Chad and I talked about this and decided that I would run hard before it got hot, scale it back during the high heat, and then we would make up whatever we could when it cooled down and during the night (my pacer extraordinaire was pacing me from 51.3 to the finish).

178 runners lined up at the start. It was already very warm – close to 80 degrees – at 7am. The first 13.8 miles are on rolling trails with 2 aid stations (which Chad got me in and out of in record time). I averaged less than 10 minute miles which kind of scared me as I don’t run that fast but I was listening to my body and knew I had to push it early before it got too hot.


Suzanne and I at the start of the race


Approximately Mile 23

After mile 13.8, it started baking. From Penny Pines on it was full on heat mitigation. I had switched to my large bottles and picked up a hand bottle so I was carrying close to 80 oz of water. All my bottles were loaded with ice and different drinks. I ran where I could and hiked the rest as I needed to keep my body from overheating. I filled my bandana with ice cubes at every aid station so that they would melt down my front and back.

The loop from Pine Creek AS back to Pine Creek AS (miles 31.3 and 36) was tremendously hot (I heard about 105 degrees). Each time at the AS I loaded up on ice cold liquid, got sponged off with ice water, and filled my bandana again. Heading out of Pine Creek AS the second time we had an 8 mile climb. I started a strong hike out and kept reminding myself that this was my forte and pushed a really hard pace the whole way up – even running where it flattened out a bit. I came into mile 44.1 and quickly changed my shoes as Chad switched out my bottles making sure there was enough ice in them to last as long as possible.


Coming into AS at mile 51.3

The trail to 51.3 was rolling and I did my best to jog quite a bit of it even though I was quite hot and knew I still had to listen to my body. I came into 51.3 about 20 minutes behind schedule. I quickly changed my sport top and t-shirt, changed out bottles, grabbed food, and Chad and I headed out.


Still super hot out at 6:30PM – I hike up my skirt most of the day to try to stay cool by increasing airflow

This is the section that I ran when I came out to train in March so it was nice to be on familiar terrain. It was also then that the sun went over the mountains and I finally got some shade. It felt absolutely amazing. It did not cool me off completely right away (I don’t know if I ever cooled off fully all night) but it was a wonderful feeling. During this section I told Chad about my time on the trail previously. It helped me to remind myself that I’d done it before.


Beautiful Lake after Stonewall AS

]From the Stonewall AS, we had a steep climb up to Stonewall Peak. I again reminded myself of my climbing abilities and we cruised to the top then ran the backside to Paso Picacho AS (64.2). After that the trail was rolling up a hill then down to mile 72.3 AS. I was warned that this is an extremely cold part of the course but I did not need any layers at that point and was still requesting ice in my water bottles. It was a real indication of how hot the core of my body had gotten.

I was feeling good and continued to jog the rolling and power hike the uphill to Sunrise 2 (mile 80.3). Chad and I were in and out right away. Chad needed a bite to eat so I started out without him knowing he would be right behind me. I kept looking back for his light and it was a close to 30 minutes before he caught me. He was surprised at my speed and how long it took him to catch me. I was feeling pretty good during that time.

I just kept rolling through the night on the trails and through the AS’s. We kept doing the math and knew I was pretty well on track for under 24 hours, but based on the split times, it could be as close as 5 minutes. I was also managing my stomach at this time and if I pushed too hard it would start going south. I knew that I was going to be on my pace for finishing if I didn’t fall apart. That was the biggest goal during that time. The temperature was great. Chad pushed me to eat little bits of real food and sip on coke hoping that would help my stomach. I knew I couldn’t run out of gas if I was going to continue this pace and finish where I wanted. We got a little bit of a reprieve on the splits when the section from Pioneer 2 to Penny Pines 2 (miles 87.5 to 91.5) took 30 minutes less than my planed splits. Instead of easing back and cruising into the finish line, the goal was revised to 23:30!


Hurting a little (or maybe a lot) at mile 96, but ready for the last push to the finish line!

At mile 96 I wanted to get a little more food in me before I made a hard push to the finish line to finish in under 23:30. I was trying to swallow some food and all at once it all came up. I told myself this is not happening, dismissed it from my brain and ran the last 4 miles.   I was so happy to see the finish line. The numbers above were blurry (my eyes were full of dust and pollen from the trail) and I couldn’t believe my eyes when I saw 23:21 as I ran into the finish line. I was absolutely amazed at myself and abilities to finish a 100 mile trail run that fast.


Happy to be done and getting a hug from Angela, the co-RD I had run with in March

Chad got our down coats as I started shivering just minutes after crossing the finish line. The first time I was not hot in over 24 hours. We hung out at the finish for a couple hours then headed down to Alpine to have breakfast with David and Suzanne then headed to San Diego.


San Diego 100 Hardware

We were so tired we just napped and sat but the pool on Sunday afternoon (we had to stop on the drive to SD as Chad was so tired he couldn’t make it the 1 hour drive). Monday we enjoyed a nice day on the beach and Chad got in a little surfing. We had a great dinner on the ocean front watching a fabulous sunset. It was a wonderful end to a great race.


Famous San Diego Fish Tacos


Tourmaline Surf Area

I’ve always wanted to end a 100 sitting on the beach

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An amazing Monday night dinner with sunset views.

Thank you so much to Chad who supports me so much through training and racing.  He ran almost 50 miles with me just one week after a 50 mile race the previous weekend.  Thanks to Scotty, Mark, Mindy, and Roch for all of the course beta.  Thanks to all of my wonderful running partners.  Training wouldn’t be as fun without all of you.