The Ultra Experience

Here's to the adventures of my life which are usually ultra marathon trail running or backpacking but may include other trips, experiences, thoughts, opinions, or pretty much whatever I want. As co-founder of Altra Footwear my life and adventures seemingly revolve more around developing and promoting the best footwear in the world...and I love it!

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Boston 2015

I've now been to the Boston Marathon 4 out of the last 5 years.  It has become not only an annual occurrence but a ritual!  I have such a deep affinity for the Boston Marathon.  Perhaps it's because Altra was launched here 4 years ago.  So every time I arrive it reminds me of packing up my Suburu and driving across the country starting my company.  Seeing the fruits of those labors is very gratifying.  I expect myself and Altra to be in Boston for many more years to come! 
Busy Busy Altra Booth
It could be that I love Boston because of the history of the race.  All these Boston Qualifiers are here because of what they've worked and sacrificed for.  The energy is so apparent it seems to permeate every meal, conversation, or thought.
3rd Row Seats to the Red Sox
Maybe I'm so connected because of all the amazing experiences I've had.  Although many of the races I have done are much more difficult, the Double has this special wrap around my heart.  I can't quite explain it but I seem to glean all sorts of positive life lessons every time I come. This year the theme was perspective.

This year, the experiences that stuck out to me the most all framed around the humbling concept of perspective.  I was thoroughly humbled and it made me more grateful for my spoiled life.  The first was around mile 11.  I see two runner's ahead of me walking. I think "Those guys look like they are doing the double too!"  NOPE...they were doing the QUAD!  David Clark was at mile 64 and ready to do 40 more.  Zero Limits all the way!  Read more about his incredible story of overcoming addiction here: http://thesupermanproject.org/
David Clark doing a Quad Boston!
12 miles later I went through my first and only low point.  I probably hadn't eaten enough, it started raining, and the road became steeper.  It was the first time in all 3 attempts where I thought "Seriously why am I doing this?!" My thoughts drifted to my busy and stressful life.  I felt under-trained and overwhelmed.  Then like a freight train, it disappeared.  Boston gives certain people an early start to avoid commotion and allow them a bit more freedom from the throngs.  As the first of these runners arrived, I was firmly put in my place.  Tears welled up in my eyes and my life's problems dissolved (see below picture of my inspiration). From there to the finish, 29 miles later, I don't think I had another negative thought cross my mind!  I couldn't and wouldn't allow it.  Life is good, no other thought is worth entertaining.
Perspective
I arrived at the starting line in 3 hrs 54 min.  My feet felt incredible in the new Altra Torin 2 despite the now pouring rain.  I grabbed a blanket that one of the elites had ditched and headed into the local convenient store to eat a protein bar, 2 banana's, a bag of potato chips, and a couple of Gatorades.  After an hour I headed out to brave what had turned into quite the rain storm.  The next 26.2 miles seemed to float by rapidly.  I was caught up in such a positive flow of energy that it carried me to the finish line in 3 hrs 45 min.  I was happy, inspired, and grateful.  "Good times never felt so good!"
Finished!

A few more Reads:
KSL article about myself and 5 other Boston Experiences
http://jeremyhowlett.com/random/boston-a-reflection/
http://batdadtraining.blogspot.com/2015/05/altra-co-fouder-brian-beckstead-runs.html

Monday, March 2, 2015

Top 10 Fish of 2014

Looking back this past weekend on the top 10 fish of 2014.  It was probably the best year of fishing I've had in my life.  Arguably the summer of 2004 in Alaska is the only other year that compares.  Using a complex algorithm based on the below criteria points, I have created my top 10 of 2014. 1st- How big was the fish?  2nd- In what method was the fish caught? (sight, sip, fly, etc) 3rd- How beautiful is the picture capturing the moment?

So, here you go.  Enjoy and fish on!
#10--  19 inch FAT brown trout.  Watched this guy come from the shadows to nail this size 4 Zonker.  Great start to the year!
#9-- 18 inch Cutthroat.  Watched this beauty slowly rise for a size 8 Salmon Fly! One of the most beautifully colored fish of my life.  It was indescribable!
Honorable mention.  $1,000 catch of a lifetime.  After an unsuccessful home attempt of slicing and line pulling, my wife took my ashamedly to the ER.  It went to the bone..couldn't believe how painful this was.


#8-- Happens to be a 21 1/2 incher caught on a size 16 Stonefly on top.  Its an interesting hatch which I've become fond of.  Its feels more like a BWO hatch but its during the hot summer.  This guy didn't hesitate as he slowly sipped it up!
#7-- As I was walking up river I saw a rise out of the corner of my eye and way closer then I would have wanted.  I froze and did a short roll cast above the rise.  Just happened to be a 19 1/2 inch pig who slurped up my size 10 Grasshopper!!



Honorable Mention.  2 for 1!!  Pre-Drake hatch I was fishing a large Drake with an emerger 24 inches below.  The 17 incher took the Dry Fly and then he made a heavy run leading me to believe he was much bigger than initially thought.  Nope...just a 2nd 12 incher that took the emerger.  2 for 1!!
#6-- 24 1/2 inch Tiger Trout.  Caught this guy sight-fishing on a size 18 green midge.  Lucky but I gauged the depth of my fly, saw his mouth open and close, set the hook and wallah!  In the mouth and what a big fish!
#5-- 19 inch Brown trout caught with a size 18 PMD 6X tippet at dusk!  I watched him for 10 minutes before carefully placed this perfect cast.  He was in slow shallow water and I had to make it across river with no drag.
Honorable mention.  Wow I hit the Green Drake hatch perfectly this year!
#4--  This 21 inch beauty was landed sight fishing in shallow rifles.  Size 12 Green Drake.  It was the 5th of 6th 19+ inch fish I caught that day!  Most epic Drake hatch I've ever been in.
#3-- Fish of 2014 was this pig of a Rainbow Trout.  A football 23 1/4 incher that took me 100yds downstream.  Strong and beautiful, I landed this guy on a size 16 Brassie.
#2-- This 23 inch HUGE Brown Trout was caught sight-fishing during the spawn,  Hit my Copper John and I missed him!  I was devastated.  I watched him for 10 minutes then cast again and he hit it hard! Took me way downstream as I fell in getting soaking wet.  After an epic fight, I finally landed him.  It was every bit of River Runs Through It!  My joy turned to devastation as he couldn't recover.  I feel terrible that he didn't survive.  One of the biggest fish of my life and I killed him...but man was it amazing.
#1-- Fish if 2014 was a 24 inch Brown Trout caught on a size 16 Brassie!  He was incredible in color, size, and strength.  I was giddy with excitement bringing in this beautiful fish!

Sunday, February 22, 2015

2015 Race Calendar

Looks like the 2015 race calendar is more or less finalized.  Should be a solid year with most races being close to home this year. Pretty excited for the challenges ahead and I may squeeze in another local race if time/schedule permits.
  • Antelope Island 50k- March 20
  • Boston Marathon- April 20
  • Zion Traverse- May 2
  • Squaw Peak 50- June 6th
  • Capital Reef 100- July 10-11
  • Quest for Kings- August TBD (please not the 8th...!)
  • Wasatch 100- September 11-12
  • Runner's World 1/2- October 18
Combined with business trips to San Francisco, Amsterdam, China, L.A., Austin, and probably a few more, its going to be a busy year!  I'll also will try to catch as many fish as possible...

Thursday, January 15, 2015

2014 Wasatch 100 Recap (much belated)

Only 6 months belated but since sending in my application and the pending lottery, my mind has wandered back frequently to my 2014 Wasatch 100 experience.  After my epic DNF of 2013 I was out for a little revenge.  Needless to say I had an absolutely amazing experience.  I ran various sections with some amazing people.  My tactical conservative approach to the race was perfect.  I used only 4 dropbags with no crew (wife and 6 week old baby Kate met me at Lambs).  Had no pacers.  It was just me vs the race and I came away feeling triumphant!  Truly one of the more spiritual experiences of my life.  Some races bond friendships others are personal lessons in life.  The 2014 Wasatch 100 was the later.  A run of joy.  Below are some pictures and videos documenting some of my experiences.  Looking forward to many more Wasatch's!

Altra now sponsors Wasatch100.  What a dream
video

Excited at the start
video

Chin Scraper


Matthew Van Horn!  Classic
video

Mile 41sh

video

Happy as a Lamb
Finished!

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Belated Squaw Peak 50 and Timp Trail Marathon 2014

So a very late double posting of my two hometown races.  Both of which I love!!  We'll start with Timp Trail Marathon:

My only goal was to go under 4 hrs.  Weather was good and the field was stacked.  From the start the lead group took off.  I intended to start out faster than usual but I lasted less then two miles with those guys!  I found myself in 8th place which is where I stayed for the first half of the race.  The run to Grove Canyon always goes by quickly.  Its basically the run from work to home...so I do it all the time.  Turns out that I was moving pretty quick on race day though.  I downloaded and used Strava for the very first time and set the course record from Dry to Grove Canyon!  

 I moved up Grove Canyon better then ever before (this was my 4th time running this race).  I was feeling confident about my sub 4 hour finish but found myself still in 6th place.  Up and over the beautiful meadows and down Battlecreek I go.  I purposely backed off heading down Battlecreek knowing that I had two more descents.  Curly Springs was as muddy as ever..yuck.  Slip and slide and up I went.  Once on top it was time to put the throttle down!  But I couldn't get my legs moving...  Stomach was fine, energy was fine, but my legs were dead.  I'm not sure if it was the fast start or fatigue from UTMF but I didn't have it.  

I pushed where I could and gave everything I had from the rock pile to the finish but alas I finished just shy of my goal at 4:02:39.  I was surprised to not see a single runner from the top of Grove to the finish.  Nobody caught me and I didn't reel anyone in.  With the 9th fastest time EVER on the course, I finished 6th.  Fast year with some great runners.  I'll be back next year and probably every year after!  I'll get my sub-4 there sooner then later.

Squaw Peak 50:
8th time running this race.  Its an annual pilgrimage for me now.  I'll need to explore other races at some point but its so convenient being 15 minutes from my house and such a beautiful course.  Having run only 8-9 times in the previous 2 months (nearly all races-- Antelope 50, UTMF, Timp Trail), I didn't have super high expectations and was planning on just cruising along for a fun run.  I enjoyed chatting with the front pack for the first two miles but made sure I was well behind once we hit the singletrack.  I made my way up to Hope Campground with ease taking it easier then ever.  I wanted to run sub-10 hrs but with no watch I just was having fun and listening to my body.  I found myself in 15-16th place heading down into rock canyon but by the time I hit Horse Mountain it seemed like I passed 3-4 people.  I chatted with nearly everyone and encouraged all the early starters.  I was having such a good time! 

The long descent into Hobble however was tougher then usual.  I'm typically pretty smooth and quick on the descents but i wasn't feeling it.  Story of the day, if you aren't feeling it, back off and save it for later!  The road was miserable.  I definitely wasn't feeling it over that 4 miles of asphalt.  By the time I got to Sheep Creek, Mile 30, I was a little frustrated.  I started slow and had still felt terrible from mile 20 to 30.  Whats up with that?!  I ended up sitting down for 5 minutes and just ate a bunch of food and chatted with the always awesome Addict II Athlete guys.  Finally I left and within a mile was feeling much better.  Ended up running strong into Little Valley, Mile 33, where I ate and drank for another 5 minutes.  The spring was not flowing at Windy Pass so I tucked away an extra bottle of water behind my shorts and was off.  I was feeling better then I had all day!  I seemed to be picking up momentum leaving Little Valley and easily ran almost every step of the initial climb.  By the time I got to Bozung Hill I was flying and passing people.  Bozung Hill seemed the easiest of my life (see Tenshi Mtns from UTMF) as I put my head down and powered through. 

I entered Windy Pass, Mile 41, feeling like a million bucks!!  Lots of friends and familiars there that kept me pumped.  Those last 9 miles I flew!  I couldn't believe how good I felt.  Ended up passing 2 more people on the trail down.  I was super happy with my time and effort as I ended up running 9:28.27 for 5th place (3 guys in front of me took a wrong turn at mile 34...).  Ran in Altra's new Paradigm.  Yes its a road shoe but at 34mm stack height and only 9 oz, it is awesome.  I loved this shoe for Squaw.

Another year another Squaw.  Happy happy happy.  Now time to do some fishin' before I get ready for a new baby Beckstead and then Wasatch 100.


Sunday, May 4, 2014

Ultra Trail Mount Fuji 2014

What do you do with a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity?!  Take full advantage!  That's what I did at Ultra Trail Mount Fuji.  Zanna was able to come along which was so much fun.  I'll make the report quick but I'll make no bones about it, this was the most difficult race of my life.  Imagine taking all the climbing at Wasatch and consolidating into 50 miles.  The steepness of the terrain was unbelievable.  I'll never complain about chinscraper or the plunge and dive again!  Its got nothing on UTMF.  Then between these monster climbs is 5-12 mile road sections.  It was brutal.  There was a 12 mile section which took me 6 1/2 hours!!!  And I was passing people.  The Tenshi Mountain range was epically monstrous and I was grossly under prepared for it.  Imagine going up and down 12 straight Bozung hills at mile 70 (Squaw Peak 50 reference).  I've never run a more difficult 12 miles in training, let alone at mile 70.  Ouch!!

I wanted to DNF after the Tenshi mountains, I was so exhausted, but was committed to getting a finish no matter what.  It flipped my 28 hour race (I was on split at mile 65) and turned them upside down.  I didn't eat anything but aid station food the last 40 miles...long rests, a massage, a lot of walking, and even a "oops, what the heck just happened" 90 minute nap at the mile 97!!  But I got to the finish.  34 hours and 27 minutes, 175th place, and my proudest ultra finish!  Only 59% of starters finished out of nearly 1200 starters. The race was brutal and at 169 km/105 miles it is the farthest I've ever run.  I learned a lot about myself out on the mountain and overall had a wonderful experience!  The Japanese people are such a tough yet generous people.  I've never seen so many volunteers or a better organized race.  Truly amazing.  Thank for the experience!
Zanna and I with Cherry Blossoms and our hotel in the background.  Beautiful!
Pre-race Dinner
Pre-Race Prep w/Nick Clark, Takashi (Japanese Altra distributor who ran STY), plus Rei and Masa our crews
Starting line with over 1200 over runners
Seconds before the start with Nick Clark
Mile into the race running through Cherry Blossoms
4 miles in with views of Mt Fuji
Entering A10, Mile 87
Leaving A10.  Feeling much better!  



Wow, I just finished that thing...
  Feels so good to me done!  Beautiful

3D Map of Course
1 minute video following Nick to his 10th place finish
The Altra UTMF Racers/Crew!  Awesome team