Sunday, July 13, 2014

Afton 2014: three years of calf cramps

Afton 2014 was an exercise in running comfortably. I had no expectations other than finishing, and intended to use the event as a training run for Sawtooth more than anything. I thought on a great day, I could run sub-5 hours. But I also understood that was an unrealistic expectation. a 5:30 finish was much more reasonable.

The basic plan was to go out relaxed, hang back and not get tangled up in the downhill start or get worked up expending energy on uphills or pounding downhills with impunity. My quads post-race, with only a slight twinging on my left sartorius, show that I followed the plan.

I came through the first loop in 2:26, essentially right where I wanted to be. Fueling and fluid intake had been good, as I had generally set (and followed) my watch's 25-minute timer for regular intake. I knew the second loop would be exponentially harder - it always it. Add to the fatigue the excessive heat and a majority of runnable sections and it's a recipe for disaster.

This was the third time I have run Afton: 2011, 2012, and 2014. During the 2011 event, held at Afton Alps due to the MN state government shutdown, I fell when my right calf cramped badly midstride. The race left my with a golf ball sized knot of continually contracted calf muscles for several days after the race. I suffered a similar fate in the 2012 event. I was twinging with cramps on the straightaway leading up to Meat Grinder, and then I was reduced to the ground during the Snowshoe loop and likely killed my chances of running sub-5 hours. Again, I had knots in my right calf from where the cramping occurred.

This year was different in that I never had a full-on cramp that immobilized me. I did have occasional cramping on that straight away and the final loop, but it was always manageable and controllable with water and salt tabs. But the post-race knot was as worse as ever, and hung around until the Friday after the race.

My stomach failed me just after the first aid station on the second loop. I couldn't stomach another gel, and I went to Coke and ginger ale at every aid station after that. The sugar high kicked in to perk up my senses and I never felt taxed for calories for the remainder of the race despite not ingesting any other solid food until after I crossed the line.

Now eight days post-race, I feel back to 100 percent and ran a decent 16.6 mile long run this morning. Of course the way our saw slow and sloggish, but a 5 AM start does that to a body. I should have done the lunge matrix, but decided against it. As a result, the run back was significantly faster (and were the way out should have been).

Next on the docket is a 20-mile run every weekend from here to Sawtooth. I have no races scheduled until Sawtooth, but I will be in Breckenridge, CO at the end of this month for a family wedding (and will run in the mountains every chance I get) and two weeks later will be running 50K on the Superior Hiking Trail. I will be doing the overnight section with my pacer so he is familiar with it and I get to experience it outside of a race and on fresh legs. I'd like to bang it out in under six hours of easy running, so we'll see how that goes. 

Thursday, May 1, 2014

(A belated) 2013 Sawtooth/Superior 100 race report

DNF stands for “did not finish.” It also stands for “did not fail.”

It was just before 2 PM on Saturday, and the Temperance River Aid station was chock full of runners. 50 milers had started to come through, and I had been passed by more than my fair share. En route to this oasis by the river, I had been seen the first 20 or so runners throwing down in a race half the distance of mine. It was odd how much distance was between each runner, far more than I had ever seen at the front of that event. Everyone was by themselves, slogging along in the relentless afternoon heat. 

Me? I was about to all-but collapse in Bill Pomerenke’s arms as I hobbled into the aid an incoherent mess. My 1,000 yard stare looked for my crew, but all I could do was raise my eyes the to height of Bill’s chest. "What do you need?" Bill said. I was ready to cry. I said nothing, instead mumbling something and waving my hands horizontal in front of me like I was done or that I was refusing what he was offering.

Bill ushered me over to a chair in the shade of the aid station’s canopy. I fell into the canvas seat as I let my body ease up. I rolled my head back to the headrest, then leaned forward. Head in hands, tears coming to eyes.

Bring me water, Bill asked the station workers. You need to get your core temperature down, he told me. Bill handed me a Dixie cup of water. I grabbed it gingerly in my hand without looking up and took a sip. And sobbed. All the while, Bill tried to get information out of me and my pacer. How much had he been drinking, eating, taking salt? he asked.

The section to Temperance has routinely, regardless of race distance, been the hardest section for me. Once you hit the Cascade River, the root- and rock-lined single track wends forever and by that point you’re still a few miles from hitting aid. And between that river bottom and the next, you’ve got to make it up and down the largest climb and descent on the entire course. That elevation change is exposed, dry, deceptive and relentless. I had taken it and its river route gingerly, carefully taking baby steps while holding firm to my poles and just trying to keep moving forward.

Bill summoned bags of ice and workers rubbed them over my back and held one under my armpits. My running companion’s parents assisted with this process, and his father modestly declined with a southern drawl to place the ice near the femoral arteries in my groin. My head was still in my hands. I kept sobbing. Step one was lowering my core temperature, and we were well on our way to inducing some chills.

And then they started in on the food. Orange slices times two. Watermelon, a slice so perfectly cut like an oversized Scrabble piece. Banana. Grilled cheese. Two pb&j's. Soup times two, the first with an extra bouillon cube. At least four salt tabs.

With hot soup in hand, I started to shiver. Here I was, 80 degrees out in the shade, and I was trembling. Slightly at first, then more violently. Always uncontrollable. Bill brought me a blanket and a medical-type person (nurse?) come over to check me out. Should they take my core temperature? The worker said no, it wasn’t necessary – persons exerting themselves to exhaustion often shiver when they stop because they’ve used up all of their fuel and the only thing keeping them warm – the exercise – has now stopped.

I kept consuming the soup, sipping at first and then by the spoon and pourful. It was extra salty. That it didn’t taste repulsive was a sign to me that I was deficient on NaCl. On any other day or in any other race, I probably would have spit it out or vomited.

I gradually came around. It started in steps. First I was able to lift my head up. When I came in, I could only look as high as someone’s knees while sitting. Then my eyes could rise to someone’s waist as the inflow of calories started to take effect. Then to the workers’ shoulders. Finally I could look them in the eye. Joni, my pacer for the last loop of Zumbro 2012, was there. Eric, who also paced that last loop, was running the marathon that day and had recently pulled into the aid station.

Then I started talking. Words came individually at first, but clearly. Then in complete sentences. "What's wrong with your body," the medical staff (maybe a nurse?) asked.

My feet are sore – pounded to a pulp, really – and I have dead quad, I responded. Every time I took a step my thighs wanted to collapse out from underneath me. She asked me if I had ever had dead quad before under circumstances where I ate something and it went away. I told her no, but that I was willing to try, if only to believe I could be revived. By this point I had been shoveling in everything they had given me. Would solid food cure my quads?

At this point I want to thank Ian Torrence for his article on Troubleshooting on the Run and especially Western States director Craig Thornley for the section on Troubleshooting in his article on preparing for Western States. Instead of looking at my feet and quads as a problem that could not be overcome, I looked for a solution. It is a mindest I am convinced is necessary to get through a 100 miler.

“But what are we going to do about my feet?” I asked her. She suggested a fresh change of socks. The only pair I had left in my bag were some ankle-high cushy running socks that I had never worn with these narrow shoes. My MT 110’s, long expanded with my swollen feet, would be stretched further. The hell with it, we’re going to try.

I eased off a sock, and tried to rub some dirt out from between my toes. Ever so gingerly, I rolled the clean cotton on and loosened the laces on my MT110’s to accommodate the extra bulk. Repeat. Tight fit, I thought. My pinkie toes were jammed into my fourth toes and my arches were a wee bit wide for their narrow accommodations. But it had to do. It was my solution. If it didn’t work, my feet would be numb soon enough not to care.

By this point, I had spent nearly 50 minutes in the aid station and was now coherent enough to congratulate Misty Swanson nee Schmidt on her nuptials after the Spring superior races, and to correct her when she confused Kevin’s wife and parents for mine.

And then I rose and turned around. My quads, previously destroyed, felt thrashed but springy. I gave commands about gels and could reasonably calculate how many I would need for the next section up, around, and down Carlton Peak. I made sure I had enough salt tabs. I had never felt so successful doing basic math. I asked about headlamps, and got Bill’s when mine came up AWOL. I changed shirts to my bright green Mankato Multisport.

I lept out of my stance. “122 out!” I shouted. “Hundred miler!” Bill and the rest of the aid station crew cheered. I was running again, motivated and determined. It was all that mattered.

“You’re fucking amazing,” my pacer Russ said as we bounded toward Lake Superior adjacent to the river.
I would never feel that good again for the remainder of the day.

Mistake One and through the night.

I arrived at Temperance in my sorry state because I made two mistakes. One of these was a minor pre-race error which requires the benefit of experience and hindsight. It alone would not torpedo a race or prevent a finish. The second was a critical error of focus, a rookie-type mistake for which I should have known better. In contrast to mistake number one, it could independently torpedo a race and prevent a finish. And worse yet, it aggravated the effects of mistake one and made them much more significant.

So what were the mistakes? Mistake one was shoe choice. I wore my New Balance MT 110’s, the second pair I had gone through. They were untested by me in any ultramarathon and so I really had no idea how they would perform as the race ground on. I had been extremely impressed with them on trails, and they are basically mountain racing flats with very aggressive tread and a rockplate under the forefoot. They were much more protective than my old Asics Hyerspeeds that carried me to Lutsen in 2011, and more protective than the MT 10’s that I beat up and wore through Zumbro in 2012.

But they weren’t enough. Everything had gone perfectly – absolutely perfectly under the circumstances – until about mile 55 and Sonju Lake area. I had come through Finland at 10:30 PM, had been eating and drinking well on the run despite the heat and managing to put down real, solid food at aid stations. After that, I had run hard through the forested single track that was the start of the 50 mile race.

And then my feet got chewed up. I ran through a section that was solid knobby rocks and came out of it feeling like someone took the multi-pyramided side of a metal meat tenderizer and banged the soles of my feet repeatedly. I started running tenderly and gingerly, wincing at every step. Add to that a little bit of sore quads and life becomes a plodding mess. It took me 2.5 hours to go from Finland to Sonju.

I spent another 30 minutes in the aid station recognizing my plight and doing everything I could fix myself. My world fell apart at the Sonju aid station in 2011, and I wasn’t about to allow it again. I had arrived in much better shape and spirits this year. One volunteer recognized me from my sufferfest, and I ran into Scott Mark again. This time, I was much more coherent and on my game, but my troubles really started in earnest here again. My appetite was down even though I was eating, and the quad soreness and foot tenderness that would eventually finish me started here.

I walked most of the four miles to Crosby, and was slightly incoherent when I arrived. I didn’t recognize Russ or his voice even though he was standing next to my crew, Lisa. I ate three pieces of quesadilla. Coke and ginger ale had lost its flavor, and I spent another 30 minutes trying to bring myself back. It was 3:30 AM, and I was rolling out. I took my poles and headed into the depths.

My gingerly walking continued as I descended into and out of the Manitou River, and leaned heavily on my poles. The sun gradually started to peek its head out and I crawled on as fast as I could, yearning for the last few miles of the section where it’s flat running and I have burned the sunny side of my calves hiking. Those came and went, and so with it the sufferfest of finishing the overnight.

And then I made mistake two and destroyed any chance of finishing. I just didn’t know it yet. Discovering the irreversible error would take several more hours.

Mistake two.

I had gone into this race planning to do it sans crew if necessary. As such, I had put together a handful of drop bags to be sent to key locations. For example, County Road Six – where I planned to and did enter the night – I stowed a long sleeve shirt, hat, gloves, headband and some gear to make sure I got through the darkness. I would not endure a hypothermic shiver walk again. Sugar Loaf Road, the aid station at the end of the Crosby-Manitou section, is where my race started to end. It was also a planned gear stop, complete with post-overnight clothes.

Mistake two was hardly consuming any food or non-water beverages at Sugar Loaf. Although my appetite had waned at the prior two aids, I chalked that up to exhaustion and normal circadian rhythm. Now it was bright, not-a-cloud-in-the-sky sunny, and I hardly mustered anything in my stomach.

And it wasn’t even for lack of trying. At Sugarloaf, I changed socks and shirts, and I spent an exorbitant amount of time popping and taping heel blisters. I was focused, in a get-it-done mode and basically failed to eat much more than a little soup (I think?), a chunk of a banana, and a sip or three of Coke in my hurry. That’s it. That was breakfast. And I packed up with gels and water and went on my way toward Kramer Road.

I managed the route to Kramer Road well enough, and I was still well under cutoffs when I arrived at the next aid. I had left Sugarloaf at about 8 AM, a full 3.5 hours under cutoff and about 2.5 hours earlier than 2011 and was well under cutoff at Kramer. And Russ started to come with me, pulling pacing duties for the last marathon.

Looking back, I didn’t sit at Kramer and I think I ate standing at the aid station tables. Did I eat enough? I don’t think so, but I know I did try to get solid food in me there. Did I continue mistake two? Maybe. I was just hurried, unfocused.

As I have written in the past, the section to Temperance is my least favorite in the entire course. It’s 7.1 miles split into three sections – wooded single track (simple), rocky, up-and-down river running (very hard), and exposed climbing out of the Cross River and down to the Temperance River (adding insult to injury). About halfway through the Cross River section, I started to falter hard. My steps got shorter, my mind got fogged and out of focus, and everything became infinitely more difficult. It was like I was watching myself from a bird’s eye view, watching me walk at a snail’s pace, and be completely unable to do anything about it. I ran out of gels, drank lots of water by my perception (but not enough), ran out of salt tabs, etc. It was complete exhaustion. The Fuel Tank read empty, and the effects of Mistake Two were rearing their head.

But I go into these races with a simple rule, a basic mindset. I leave the course under three conditions: I finish; I suffer a serious medical injury that physically prevents me from continuing; or I miss a time cut off. I do not quit. And that’s what kept me going, even if I was confused that there was a 1:30 PM cutoff at Temperance and I had thought I missed that (there isn’t a cutoff, but aid closes at 4 PM).


The running high from Temperance River lasted a while, but not too long. Once we started in on anything with a moderate incline on the north side of the river, I started walking what I could probably could have run with a smidge more effort.

The hike up to Carlton Peak has three or so good climbs, and every time I have come at it from the south, I look up and all I see is the tops of trees. Are we at the top yet? And every time, I have to think, “No, we’re not – Carlton Peak is a huge boulder that comes out of the middle of nowhere.” Like other landmarks, it just appears.

I fully expected to hike around the Peak and then start running when we hit the board walks, which is what I was capable of doing – running at mile 89 into a mile 90 aid station. Cut off was 5:30. We rolled in about at 5:17, and Matt Long in his Grim Sweeper’s shirt was sitting there with two of his crew.

“This is the easiest section,” he said, referring to the trip to Oberg. I knew he was right. It’s 5.6 miles of rolling hills, with one decent climb and nothing too technical.

“You’ve got 13 minutes to get out of here,” the Grim Sweeper said. I asked him for some slack in jest, but he and I knew the cut offs were hard this year, especially at the end of the race. In 2011, we got into Carlton/Britton Peak aid station at 4:45 PM, a full 45 minutes under cut off, and hit Oberg at 6:30 PM an 1:45 later. Here I would have to hit that pace and then have no cushion to get to Lutsen by 10 PM. It was going to be close.

And so we rolled out after I pounded down some soup broth and potatoes. Running what I could, walking what I couldn’t. We had taken food with us again to make sure that if things started to go south we could attempt a rebound.

But the pains in my quads and feet came back, slowly at first and then it became debilitating. Nowhere near the sufferfest of Temperance, but also not even close to the pace I needed to maintain. It was deadquad, and my feet were too tenderized to land on what pounding my quads could put on them. When John Taylor passed me, I knew I was in deep trouble. And then I looked back and saw two fistfuls of orange flags. Sweeps. Game over.

Or so my brain thought. I picked up the march but the problems continued. Pain kept me from running, and my faulty memory – I couldn’t place where in the sequence Leveaux Mountain came around – gave me a false senses of hope. All I could think about was watching Christi Nowak take a digger and scrape up her side in the 2011 Spring 50K. I knew where that occurred was close, but I needed to get there. Patches of the trail were flashing back to me, but I was unable to connect the dots.

I started running hard when I saw the beaver ponds, thinking that I was getting close – more like about three quarters of the slow slog through. Once I realized I wasn’t even close, I backed off, and we kept walking. My watch read 7 PM, and I was done. All that was left to do was get out of there.

And that was the cruel irony of the situation. Ultras are not races where leaving the race is easy. Aid stations are often the only access points to the trail from which to exit the course, and missing a time cut off is the cruelest of ways to leave. You must finish the section to get out, but you can’t go on when you get there.
I timed out at mile 95 at Oberg Mountain when I rolled into the vast parking lot at 7:45 PM, a mere 45 minutes tardy. Only Matt Long and the TCRC RV remained. Everyone else was gone.

On the drive back to Lutsen, I was happy and had no feelings of regret. By this time I had long reconciled with myself over the race. Did I make any mistakes? Yes. Having made those mistakes, did I do everything in my power to finish? Yes. Did I leave anything on the course? No. Any lack of production was not for a lack of effort. I did not quit, as much as I wanted to be done with it while trudging to Temperance. I did not finish, but I did not fail in putting all of my effort into finishing.

Monday, April 28, 2014

Shoes, and 2014

I paid my first visit to the TC Running Co. - both stores, in fact - with the intent on replacing my shoes for the 2014 season. I can run again in the early morning hour and I no longer spend three-plus hours per day in a car. So new shoes were in order.

I planned on getting the New Balance 110's, 1010's (now version 2's) and something similar to the 110's but stylized for road. The basic idea was to have a quiver of kicks for all condition I run in: road flats for the day-to-day runs; 110's for trail runs and races 50 mile or less; and the 1010's for Sawtooth and other 100 milers. The reason for the plan, you will see, is in my written-but-not-yet-finished report from Sawtooth 2014. I ran in the 110's - which were GREAT up until the Sonju roots - and DNF'd by timing out at mile 95 (Oberg Peak) when I arrived there at 7:45 PM.

But New Balance is re-tooling the 110's - damn them! - to provide for more cushioning and they are generally out of stock at most place. I tried the MT10v2's (the current version of the MT10's I went through two pairs with) and the MR10's and tuck with the MT's - they fit sock-like, just as advertised. TCRC also didn't have the MR's in my size. Although I needed an 8 in NB trail shoes, I needed a 7.5 in the MR's.

I can to the conclusion to try on the 1010's after looking for a beefier shoe that while minimal, offers more protection than the 110's. I was looking at NB's Leadville model, but decided against it because of the built-in motion control (there is a medial post built in - see iRunFar's video review of it). That lead me to the 1010's. I initially tried them on with my traditional running socks - Fox River X-static liners - but they were too large. Again, not having 7.5's in stock, I grabbed a thicker sock from their bin to try them on. Viola! They fit smoothly and the issues I was having re: size were solved. I left there with two pairs of shoes, a three-pack of the sock I tried the 1010's on with, and two bumper sticker - 50K and 50 Miles. But why no 100 mile stickers? TCRC, get some!

1010v2's on the left, with wool FitSox and MT10v2's on right.

Sunday, September 1, 2013

On your pace at Sawtooth 100: what 2012's 50-mile splits tell us about slowdown

In 2012, runners who finished Sawtooth 100 slowed down by an average 39.75 percent from their first half (start to Finland, 51.2 miles) in their second half (Finland to finish, 52.1 miles). The proof:

Here's what the data tells us:
  • 89 finishers, 87 who have 50-mile splits
  • Average slow down for all finishers was 39.75 percent; median was 37.9 percent
  • The most even splits were from the top woman, who slowed down 7 percent
  • The most lopsided splits were from the 45th finisher, who had almost a 1:2 time ratio between the first and second halves
  • 25 people finished under 30 hours, with an average slow down of 35.88 percent; 32 people finished under 32 hours with an average slow down of 36.76 percent.
  • The standard deviation for all runners was 14.33 percent, meaning two-thirds of all runners slowed down +/- 14.33 percent from the average of 39.75 (a range of 25.42 to 54.08 percent slowdown)
  • The standard deviation for runners who went sub-30 was 14.99 percent, slightly wider than the group of all runners.
Being that I set my original pace chart at about a 22 percent slowdown (based on finishing 55 percent of the distance of half of my goal time and the remaining 45 percent of the distance in the remaining time), my goal is on the lower end of one standard deviation away from the average from last year's results. That's enough to make me think about it again.

Statistically, if someone runs a 30-hour finish on this data, two-thirds of the time they will be at Finland between 12:00:00 (50 percent slowdown) and ~13:36:00 (20 percent slowdown) elapsed. 

Tab two of my 2013 Sawtooth Pace Chart has my goal finishing times adjusted to account for at 35 percent slow down. Basically it takes my pace to Finland down 14:54/mi and my pace to the finish up to 19:52/mile. A similar exchange is made for my 32 hour pace.

I'd be very curious to see similar data from prior years.

Friday, August 30, 2013

On one's pace, etc.

Steve Quick has written much over on his blog about the so-called "best" way to pace your race at Sawtooth: here, here, here are three recent and good examples of his thoughts on the topic. They generally focus on course-record splits and pacing. Should you run hard to Crosby and try to make it there before sundown? Should you try to run even splits? Push the overnight and try to negative split?

But he's also put this post up: Two Thoughts on the Superior Sawtooth 100. Thought no. 1 is about of all things, spectating Sawtooth, specifically where to go to make sure you see all of the faster runners who will finish and all of the mere-mortals who will finish. Now ultrarunning outside of a 12/24-hour course (think a track ultra or something like FANS) is not a spectator-friendly event. At a race like Sawtooth or most every other ultra, spectators only see runners at three locations: 1) the start; 2) aid stations and then only for a few minutes barring the runner's serious needs; 3) and the finish.

When you extrapolate Steve's time slots to the pace a runner must travel at to be there while the dedicated spectator is spectating, his groupings make sense. For example, compare that pace with the mileage necessary and someone should fall within one spectating time slot or the other, barring a drastic decline on the overnight that pushes a faster runner into the second spectating time slot as well. This is what happened to me at Sawtooth 2011.

In 2011, I fell into both groupings. I came into County Road 6 at almost 7:30 PM exactly, and came into Sugarloaf at about 9:30 AM after my overnight sufferfest to and through Crosby-Manitou. In sum, it took me 13 or so hours to do 30 miles. Pretty unacceptable to me for future races, but it was first overnight run, I had no idea what I was getting into, etc.

As noted in my previous post, I'd like to crank out 30- to 32-hour finish. Something 29:XX:XX would be fantastic, and I think I am capable of it. Looking back on 2011, my run to County Road 6 felt great. Perhaps a little fast at the start with race jitters, but things eventually calmed down because they had to. And I just kept pushing. Then the overnight hit and I took a huge cratering nosedive.

I've put together a rough pace chart, based on the premise of running 55 percent of the distance (to Sonju) in the first half of the allotted time and running the remaining 45 percent of the total mileage with the latter half. That means you're running the fast pace at least through some darkness, whether that's 15 miles or more. It's a 22 percent slow down, and the percentages are based off of some ultrarunning discussion that I've read places other than NPR. (Storkamp provides 50-mile splits for 100 mile finishers, so perhaps I'll have to compare my theoretical slow down to actual slowdown and somehow control for runner's ability.)

What does it look like? Surprisingly, it puts me at County Road 6 at 7:30 - just like 2011 - for a 30 hour finish and puts me at Sugarloaf at just before sunrise for a 32-finish and damn-near middle of the night for a 30-hour finish. Based on Steve Quick's groupings, that makes me in the faster grouping. It's also puts that last marathon at eight to nine hours, and the last 50K at 12 to 12.5 hours. Something crazy-slow just reading on paper, no? But absolutely realistic under course and race conditions.

I have these thoughts of my ideal race looking like the first 43 miles of 2011 and the 50-miler from last year, with a little fudging to get myself from County 6 to Finland. I didn't write a race report from last year's race (and I haven't raced an ultra since then), but I came in at 13:45 on basically no training and ran comfortably up until I hit the roots next to the Cross River in the section between Cramer Road and Temperance. From there, I slowed down but muscled through it and felt like I had my fluids and nutrition dialed in. I ran evenly, and led a large group for a good chunk of time with people commenting how even keeled I was. I ran with no watch - not an option at Sawtooth, me thinks, but I haven't totally kicked the idea - and went on feel.

I feel comfortable with the first daytime section. My key will be keeping that first section mellow and keeping moving despite having long section lengths (three of 10 miles and one of nine) - if we were to run this race backwards, I'm sure you'd see some more serious carnage that you presently do, Carlton Peak, Moose and Mystery Mountain be damned.

The overnight will see headphones get plugged in and a push forward through present, in-the-moment mindfulness. I know I likely slow down, but that needs to be minimized. Geoff Roes has a post on his blog or on iRunFar regarding maintaining one's self can save a minute or so per mile when you're feeling well, but several minutes per mile when you're feeling terrible. The latter will be key in the overnight.

The goal of the overnight is to simply get to Russ in those pre-dawn or early morning  hours. With new lighte my circadian rhythm will kick back in and I will be more enthusiastic to push onward now that my vision is not limited to a headlight beam.

That's how I plan to run 2013 Sawtooth - on feel, namely if it feels too fast, it probably is. We're going to consistency and avoiding a sufferfest and the death march that it induces.