2014 Racing Recap

My race performances have been on a steady upward trajectory since I returned to running in 2007 after a years-long break while dealing with torn cartilage in my left knee. 2012 was a breakthrough year. 2013 was even better. 2014, despite a small hiccup, may have been even better still.

The hiccup of which I speak was the fact that we moved across the country from (effectively) sea-level to one mile above. From one of the least fit states in the country to the most fit state in the country. From an area with less competition to an area with more competition. From an area with relatively easy terrain to an area with quite difficult terrain. You get the idea. I may have been a moderately sized fish in a small pond before, but that’s no longer the case.

The year started well, with a 1st place in a 10 mile trail race (ShITR). Next came a 2nd place in a 9 mile trail race (Nippy Niner). Then came a pretty remarkable span of 43 days where I set personal best times for 50 miles (Land Between the Lakes), 5K (Take Steps for Kids), marathon (Go! Saint Louis), 50K (Double Chubb). I ran two of those PRs in a superhero costume.

Photo courtesy of Lori Vohsen

River's Edge Trail

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Photo courtesy of Shannon Drohan

We made the move to Colorado in May. My first 4 races here (Pilot Hill 25K, Leadville Trail Marathon, Mount Werner 50K, Peach Festival 5K) were pretty rough. After spending the summer acclimating to the altitude I feel like I finally nailed it by finishing 3rd at the Black Squirrel Trail Half Marathon. Then came another dip, with a mediocre cyclocross race and a somewhat disappointing finish at the Blue Sky Trail Marathon. I bounced back with a very close 2nd place in a cyclocross race, then a 1st at the Forest Glen 50K in Illinois, then a speedy finish at the Allerton Trail Run in Illinois.

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Tree line

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Photo by Ski Town Photography

1.5 miles

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Photo by Erin Bibeau Photography

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Photo by Erin Bibeau Photography

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Forest Glen 50K
Photo courtesy of Cousin Don

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Photo courtesy of Allerton Park Trail Run

I put in some big climbing (over 21,000 feet) the week of Thanksgiving, then I was the 1st (only?) finisher of the Chubby Cheeks 50K in December.

Comparing results from recent years, things look good.

  • 2012: 26 races, 18 top tens, 9 podiums, 3 wins, 4 PRs
  • 2013: 23 races, 21 top tens, 13 podiums, 5 wins, 4 PRs
  • 2014: 18 races, 11 top tens, 8 podiums, 4 wins, 6 PRs

Looking ahead to 2015 I’m planning to do fewer races, but the races I will run are going to be doozies. So far on my plate are Moab Red Hot 55K, Quad Rock 50 mile, and Neversummer 100K. Realistically, I’m not expecting to win many more races. But I am looking forward to running well in some really hard races against some great competition at some pretty incredible locations.

December 2014


Horsetooth Rock Trail

Horsetooth summit

State line



Home among these mountaintops

December was a very easy month. Aside from the fat-ass 50K I didn’t run a whole lot (relatively speaking). The runs were short(ish) and easy. There were several days off for travel and a few for being sick. By the end of the month I felt recharged and ready to get after my training in January.

Month Workouts Total Dist Avg Dist Total Ascent Avg Ascent
January 19 192.03 miles 10.11 miles 9620. feet 506.32 feet
February 19 227.4 miles 11.97 miles 12301. feet 647.42 feet
March 17 192.96 miles 11.35 miles 10819. feet 636.41 feet
April 15 155.13 miles 10.34 miles 10947. feet 729.8 feet
May 24 252.5 miles 10.52 miles 20364. feet 848.5 feet
June 21 224.48 miles 10.69 miles 33782. feet 1608.67 feet
July 18 201.09 miles 11.17 miles 33696. feet 1872. feet
August 19 212.37 miles 11.18 miles 28465. feet 1498.16 feet
September 17 180.49 miles 10.62 miles 23117. feet 1359.82 feet
October 15 147.11 miles 9.81 miles 13376. feet 891.73 feet
November 23 206.79 miles 8.99 miles 46985. feet 2042.83 feet
December 19 171.59 miles 9.03 miles 23836. feet 1254.53 feet
Total 226 2363.94 miles 10.46 miles 267308. feet 1182.78 feet

Running 2014 12

Chubby Cheeks 50K

Chubby Cheeks start

In mid-December I ran the Chubby Cheeks 50K. This is a fat-ass event (no entry fee, no bib number, pseudo-race, organized group run) that takes place on the trails of Horsetooth Mountain Open Space and Lory State Park. I hadn’t run long in two months, so I was eager to complete the full 50K rather than one of the shorter options (22 & 26 miles). At the starting line I overheard one of the other runners apologize to his acquaintance that he was only going to run the marathon distance that day.

I love Colorado.


Horsetooth Rock Trail

South Ridge Trail

Audra Culver Trail

I started off with a group of three guys I knew and one guy I just met. We ran together up the mountain at a leisurely pace and stopped at the top for a while to soak in the view.


Horsetooth summit

Horsetooth summit

We picked up the pace a bit on the way down before hitting bottom and starting the second ascent. The second descent was again fast. At the bottom the other 4 guys split off for the 22 mile turnaround while I soldiered on alone, now blasting music on my iPod.

Spring Creek Trail

Howard Trail

Arthurs Rock

I stopped for a bit at the top of Arthurs Rock before somewhat uncharacteristically bombing the next descent as well. Another trip halfway up the mountain and back down left me at the marathon turnaround point. I arrived there at the same time as a guy I knew (who started later) so we ran together for a few miles. He said he felt bad as we started the last trip up the mountain so I was on my own again.

Timber Trail

West Ridge Trail

I was moving pretty slow by this point. I’ve climbed the mountain twice in one run before, but not more than that. This event included 4½ ascents of the mountain and by the last climb I was pretty tired, though still in good spirits. I descended one final time and began the half mile journey back to the starting line, which was at the nearby home of the organizer (Nick).

Melissa and Will were headed to the after-event party and they passed me right at the end. Will got out and ran with me to the finish line. At 6h35m I definitely didn’t set the course ablaze, but I wasn’t really trying to run fast. This was a nice comfortable (at times) training run. With 7,500 ft of climbing it turned out to be the most I’ve ever climbed in a single day.

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Despite the nice weather, apparently nobody else was stupid enough to run the full 50K that day. So I “won” by default. After a couple hours at the party two other runners finished the 50K, though I think they added a few miles by getting lost at one point.

It was a good way to end a good year: running with friends, running alone, climbing the mountain over and over again, running fast, running slow, walking, completing a nice long run just because I can, yet not killing myself in the process. It was only after the run that I realized that this was mostly the same course as the Quad Rock 50 mile race I’m running next May, which makes me even more glad I was able to do this run.