I don’t have anything to report from the local racing scene this week. One big item that I hope to cover in more detail at some point, is the amazing Katie Graff. Yesterday she completed the Moab 200, the third and final race in the Triple Crown of 200s. Full results are here.
Shane Pitsch, a new member of our TrailRoots group, recently finished a 3 day trail running event: TrailFest. Shane recently started running and has progressed rapidly, setting new PRs and running longer distances almost every week. We emailed about his progress. I like this quote “I just feel a whole lot better, physically, mentally and spiritually, than I ever have in my life, and I attribute most of that to running.”
Armadillo Running: TrailFest sounds like something I need to do- 3 days, 3 races in Bryce, Zion and Grand Canyon. How did you pick this event?
Shane Pitsch: TrailFest WAS awesome! One of the best weeks of my life! A mutual friend posted last February that she had signed up for the Zion run. It looked like something that I wanted to do, so I thought I’d challenge myself and sign up for all three races.
AR: The races were 13, 12, and 19 miles for a total of 34 miles in 3 days. I expect there was also a lot of climbing. How did it go?
Shane Pitsch: The races ended up being 14, 12 and 17 miles. There was a LOT of climbing. More than I had ever done by a longshot. Also, I had never dealt with the type of altitude that we were running in. All in all, I feel I did very well. I had a few very minor issues with my stomach acting up. Just a tiny bit of nausea that I was able to get control over pretty easily, and it didn’t hamper my races too much. My finishing times were not quite as fast as I would have liked, but considering this was my first time doing something like this, I don’t think they were too bad. I finished the first race in 3:44:02, the second in 2:28:39, and the third in 4:30:15. That included several stops for photos. I ranked in the top half of all runners on all three races, I believe, and placed 95 overall, out of the 160 men who ran and completed all three races.
AR: Patrick Creel, a fellow TrailRoots runner, was your pacer and supporter for TrailFest. How important was it to have an expert ultra runner on your side?
Shane Pitsch: Patrick has been a tremendous help and inspiration to me. He paced me through the Bryce Canyon and Grand Canyon races. He paced our mutual friend during the Zion race. I’m incredibly thankful to have him as a source for advice and encouragement. He’s truly become one of the best friends that I have.
AR: You started running recently. What attracted you to running? What is your athletic background?
Shane Pitsch: I tried to start running several years ago, shortly after my wife left me, but it only lasted a few months. I wasn’t doing it for the right reasons and I hadn’t found a passion for it. I started running more seriously last February. I had already lost a lot of weight through better nutrition and a whole lot of walking with my dogs. I started getting more competitive with myself, continually trying to improve on my pace. Eventually, I got to the point where I pretty much had to start incorporating actual running into the mix if I wanted to continue to improve. So far, I’ve lost 75 lbs., and am still working to lose more. I signed up for the Capital 10K and started training for it in February. This was my first race. A week after that race, I ran the Tangle 30K, which was part of the Rogue Trail Series. I was slow, but I finished and it felt very good. There are many things that have attracted me to stick with running this time around. First of all, I just feel a whole lot better, physically, mentally and spiritually, than I ever have in my life, and I attribute most of that to running. I certainly like the feeling of accomplishment I get when I cross the finish line of a race, or even when completing a long run, or breaking a PR in a training run. It’s a similar feeling of satisfaction to what music has given me all these years. Lastly, I like the challenge of it, and how much I can learn about the process of training and racing, but also how much I can learn about myself through that process.
AR: You joined TrailRoots a few months ago. Did you lose a bet to Patrick or was this your idea?
Shane Pitsch: Haha! This is an entertaining question! No, I didn’t lose a bet to Patrick. After I started gaining an admiration for his accomplishments as a runner and talking to him about it a good bit, I started considering it. He did mention it to me and told me he wouldn’t be near the runner he is today if it weren’t for Trail Roots, and suggested that I might consider joining. The more I thought about it, the more I began to realize that it would be invaluable to be a part of a community of like-minded people I could learn from. Right now, in TrailRoots, I feel like I’m one of the slower, more back of the pack runners, and surrounding myself with people who are better at it than I am really pushes me to try to step up my own game. This is how it’s always worked for me throughout my musical career and it stands to reason that it will also have the same effect here. Lastly, I just thought it would be really cool to meet some new people and make some new friends that share this new passion that I’ve adopted. So far, all of these things I just mentioned have proven themselves to be true. I’m happy to say that I have already made some very good friends through TrailRoots, and look forward to making several more!
AR: What was your training like for TrailFest?
Shane Pitsch: I’ve kind of been combining my training for TrailFest with my marathon training. At the beginning of May, I looked at a bunch of marathon training plans on the web and settled on the intermediate plan on the Cool Runnings website. I followed that for a few months and was doing very well with it, but then started realizing that I was going to have to start making some adjustments in my training as I got closer to TrailFest. I started doing longer runs three days in a row, every other week, and started increasing the mileage of those runs as I got closer to the event. I maxed out with a 22 mile trail run on the greenbelt. Patrick accompanied me on that run. That’s my longest single run, so far. After that, I started a two week taper leading up to TrailFest. I also started doing heat training during the summer, trying to acclimatize myself to running in hotter temperatures. I had read in more than one source, that this can help a bit when it comes to training for higher altitudes. It’s tough to say whether that actually helped or not, but I think it might have. I definitely felt the altitude in the three races at TrailFest, but it didn’t hold me back too much. To supplement all of that, I’ve also been geeking out/bingeing on as many books, podcasts, interviews, movies, YouTube videos, etc. on ultra trail running as I can. Having completed a doctorate, I’m no stranger to good old fashioned research, and I dove in head first. The information I was able to accumulate in my head has most definitely proven itself to be very beneficial.
AR: You mentioned that you have a bunch of other races planned in the next few months. What races and why?
Shane Pitsch: Here are a list of races that I’m planning on in the coming months:
11/4 Run for the Water
12/3 San Antonio Rock and Roll Marathon (this will be my first marathon)
1/6 Bandera Endurance Run 25K
1/21 3M Half Marathon
2/18 Austin Marathon
6/16 Bighorn Trail Run (32 Mile)
I chose the San Antonio Marathon because that’s where I grew up and I have a lot of family and friends there. That will be my first marathon. Consequently, I found out that one of my huskies has congenital hip dysplasia and is in need of a $5,000 hip replacement surgery. I’m thinking about doing a GoFundMe campaign in conjunction with my running of the SA and Austin marathons to try to help raise money to get the surgery for him. He’s only two years old. One of my cousins is running the Austin Marathon, so I decided to sign up and run it with him. The Run for the Water and 3M are training runs for the marathons. I’m doing Bandera just because it looks like a great race and I want to take part in it. I’ve been wanting to do my first ultra distance race in the spring or early summer.
AR: How has becoming an avid runner affected the rest of your life?
Shane Pitsch: Becoming an avid runner has affected my life in many ways. As I mentioned earlier, I feel better physically, mentally and spiritually since I started running. My confidence level has increased a good bit. It had suffered since my wife left me, but completing some of these races that I would have never dreamed I would have been capable of has really given me a lot more confidence in myself and leads me to believe deep down that I can do whatever I set out to do, as long as I’m committed. Running, and getting in better shape in general, also allows me to have more energy so that I can keep up with my three crazy huskies and do more physical activities with them, which is very important to me.
Congratulations to Shane on TrailFest! He’s a welcome addition to the TrailRoots crew. He’s a professional trumpeter, with a BA from UT and a Ph.D. in trumpet performance from University of Illinois. He’s played trumpet with big acts like Spoon, Willie Nelson, Ray Charles and Julio Iglesias, and regularly plays with smaller groups around Austin. He also teaches lessons. Shane will be playing with the NOW Jazz Orchestra at the Elephant Room on 10/25. Another show is on 11/22, the night before Thanksgiving, where Shane is part of a group that will recreate The Last Waltz by The Band.
An amazing new FKT on the John Muir Trail. Francois D’Haene, the recent winner at UTMB, finished the 210 mile trail with 47,000 feet of climbing in 2 days, 19 hours. That’s about 7 hours faster than the previous supported FKT set by Leor Pantilat in 2014. The JMT is a popular trail and lots of fast runners have tested themselves on this route through the Sierra Nevada mountains. D’Haene might have set a FKT that will last a long time. Coverage from Outside.
A couple of fast women are attempting to break the record for running across the US. Sandy Villines and Mimi Anderson are on separate attempts to break the current record of 69 days set by Mavis Hutchinson in 1979. Cool article from ESPN. (H/T to Dan Hannon)
REI has been posting some interesting articles. Here is an interview with Kilian Jornet. I like his attitude.
Check out this article from Men’s Journal: Aire Libre. It’s about a trio of runners and their experiences in Mexico and Arizona. A quote from Mauricio Diaz: “We are trying to inspire people to be active and connect with nature, because we know that if they do that, they will be happier, which will create a positive chain reaction.”
The weekend is also a blank for big local races. The weekend after we have Cactus Rose by Tejas Trails. Check it out if you’ve been wanting to test yourself on the trails at Bandera before the big 100K race in January.