Category Archives: Positive Thinking

Saved by Thoughtfulness

This is loooong and booooring. You’ve been warned.

Planned to run 24 hours after working a full day. Idea was to be awake at least 36 hours. Had an ambitious course that I’d never set foot on. Toned it down to Plan B which was just a simpler loop. But it turns out even that was a no go.

First thing I learned: In the Canyons, there is no cell reception unless your on a peak, and even then it can be iffy. So if you make plans where you might or will be out of communication, make sure the plans are bulletproof. Know exactly where to meet.  I’ve only run with her Madison before, so I should have asked her what kind vehicle she was driving. She parked in the next parking lot, so I moved my car next to hers.

We left promptly on schedule at sunset, 6:21. Headlamps came out shortly. We had a pretty pleasant run up Church Fork to Grandeur Peak. When we got to the top, we saw someone had left a sword there, maybe from Halloween. Madison definitely won the “Dramatically pulling the Sword from the Stone” acting award. (Even though the sword was barely in the ground.)

When we got on the unmaintained and untraveled Mill Creek Crest trail, it was really hard to see where the trail was. And the ground was covered with these short bushes that further obscured the trail. So having the full brightness of our headlamps was critical. Always start a big run with brand new batteries, especially if time matters like in a race. And always have spare batteries. In my experience, batteries start to dim to unacceptable levels after 8-10 hours. The difficulty of the terrain may dictate how soon you should change them.

We would find the trail, run for a minute and then be looking again for the trail. Repeat this for two of the slowest miles ever. This was frustrating and one of the main lessons of the night. Just because you can see the trail on map, doesn’t mean squat – and even a phone app might not help. My dumb ass thinking I could find the route AT NIGHT was wildly mistaken. I should have gone and pre-run the course, especially since I invited someone to run with me. I felt like a jackass getting us lost. Thank goodness Madison was not upset.

We discussed that sometimes it’s okay to not know where you area all the time. Sometimes it’s okay to struggle to find the way. But after awhile of constantly not seeing the trail, of having no idea where to go, I started to get worried. I started to get that feeling when you’ve been drunk or tripping too long and you just want it to stop. It was more annoyance than panic. I would have killed for some small orange flags or cairns.

We persevered nightmare level bushwhacking until we reached a small peak. There was a steep drop off in the direction we were headed. We looked around the sides for a less steep route, but found nothing. After a fruitless search, Madison suggested we bail and backtrack. I fully agreed. This was a good example of being mentally flexible and not getting fixated on an objective.  As much as I wanted to keep going since we were so close to Mount Aire, I knew she was right. And looking at a map now of where we were and where we were trying to get to, she absolutely made a smart call.

We turned around, and even backtracking was a bit of a challenge. At one point, we decided instead of going all the way back to where we split off from Church Fork, we could just drop into the canyon towards the road and eventually hit the trail. While that was true and we did eventually hit the trail, it was super sketchy. We had to slide down some steep scree fields. The whole time I kept thinking if anything happened to Madison, it was my fault. Fortunately the trail was relatively close which was a HUGE relief. We were ecstatic to be back on a trail and made our way back to the cars. I apologized for getting us lost

After Madison left, it was about an hour before Nate and Brian were scheduled to show up. I loaded my food and water, put on my down jacket and wrapped myself up in my down sleeping bag. I rested my eyes and brain a bit. Saw a few cars drive by. I turned on some music to rouse me as I got out of the car. Then two cars coming from each direction pull in on either side of me. I was like “Fuck yeah!” I don’t know why, but I thought it was so cool they both rolled up at the same time. They got situated, and we started off.

Told them Mill Creek Crest trail was a shit show and that we would have to resort to Plan C. Ascend Church Fork, down Grandeur west face, and then over to Pipeline and back. As they were getting ready, we had a bit of discussion on how to dress appropriately. It was pretty cold, there was a possibility of rain so it was important for us all to have the right clothing. I had been wearing a base layer, with a tech tee, and my windbreaker which had been working well so far. Later, I would find that I would like to have something more substantial for next time. Learning to dress for your temperament is critical in cold weather and comes with practice and experience. 

We made it to Grandeur Peak easily. We took photos with the sword. Nate (in the red) looks like he’s pooping, I think he said as much.

As we descended the West face and began making our way towards Pipeline, there were some hiccups route finding. Nate seemed a little agitated, and rightfully so. I again felt I had let my friends down by not knowing the route. As we struggled uphill, it occurred to me that I should have done this at Bonneville Shoreline Trail. That is a much easier, flatter trail. Nate had even suggested that to me, but I thought it was too flat and I wanted to be a badass. Ahh, hindsight. The value of simplicity cannot be overstated. We finally made it to Pipeline. After plodding along, it was great to actually run on a flat wide trail.

As we got closer to the cars, I was sad and anxious. I was extremely jealous that they would be going home to shower and sleep in a comfortable bed and not be cold and not have to run anymore. I would be on my own for the next 6 hours.

We were done an hour early, so I took a nap. I had planned for 20 min which turned into close to an hour. Looking at the time, it was hard to will myself to leave the relative warmth of my down cocoon, go back into the cold night, and start running again.  Memories of Julie’s “Don’t be a lil bitch!!!” stirred me into action.

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I loaded up and was ready to roll, it was 6 am. I was right on schedule, which made me happy. I headed in the opposite direction from the last loop. Since I was on my own, I wanted to do the west face of Grandeur which is considerably harder than the Church Fork route. I warmed up and turned on my music which helped me feel less alone.

For the most part, I feel like I had been on top of my hydration and nutrition. My mental state had been pretty good up to his point. No injuries or gear issues. The weather was NBD. I had done this peak plenty of times to know what I was in for. I figured two hours and I’d be at the top.

It was tougher than usual. I kept stopping and checking my heart rate, which never seemed to be that high. I was huffing and puffing. The higher I got, the more I stopped. It began to flurry and the wind kicked up. It looked worse at the peak, so I stopped and put on my rain jacket, rain pants, and another pair of gloves. That was a smart move. I kept climbing for what seemed like an eternity. The wind intensified even more, blowing the snow into my face. All I could think was how bad this sucked.

Normally, I am pretty good at putting The Suck in perspective. I tried focusing on just the steps in front of me, but also kept looking up to see how much more I had to go. It was always A LOT.  I tried to keep in mind that even though it looked super far, I would be there soon enough. FutureSelf usually reminds me of the long view, but was now conspicuously silent. PresentSelf was in full on pity party mode.

Since I was basically crawling, I had plenty of time to think up “reasons” to quit. I was “being smart so that I could live to run another day…”  I didn’t Lexi to drive out here expecting to run and find that I could barely walk… I didn’t want to get sick and screw myself for Dead Horse on the 17th… I wasn’t having fun anymore… I was tired and cold and had had enough… None of which held much water.

Bottom line: mentally, I had given up.

I started thinking how I would explain to everyone why I gave up. What would I tell them? Did I have a legitimate enough excuse? Would I have to make something up? There would always be some silver lining to find. People would still give your credit for what you did do. It’s okay to fail. There was no real consequence to quitting.

Armed with all my “reasons” and assurances that no one would shame me for quitting, I texted Lexi that I was pulling the plug. As I hunkered down, shielding my phone from the oncoming snow, I was still completely conflicted about sending the message. After I hit the send button, I felt a mixture of 3% relief and 97% guilt and disappointment.

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Recently, I have been concerned with knowing when to call it quits. Maybe in the back of my mind, I thought this was one of those times it would be prudent. I wanted to show myself that I could be smart. But I think if you really should quit, you’ll feel it in your gut, you’ll just “know.” And on the flip side, you should also feel it in your gut when you should NOT quit. I think I knew in my gut that I shouldn’t quit, and that’s why I felt so conflicted and disappointed.

Shortly after sending the message, I reached the peak and immediately started descending. Literally, within the first few steps down, I realized my legs were fine. (Which shouldn’t have surprised me. By this point, I’d only run about 30 miles.) Was this some weird kind of fluke? I kept running, expecting to feel worse. Nope. Not a fluke. Legs are fine, it’s just your dumb, weak brain couldn’t manage to keep it together.

Excited by this new development, I got my phone to text Lexi to “put the plug back in.” She had sent a message 20 minutes ago. There might be a chance to catch her. I replied, but realized I no longer had cell reception and the message would not go through. I had needlessly bailed on my friend.

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Happy I could run, but dejected and extremely disappointed that I had let another friend down, I stewed and tried to dissect what happened. My thinking has always been that during really long races, you’ll hit a low and want to quit. It’ll suck and seem like the end of the world. But if you can wait it out just a bit and take a step back, things will probably be okay.  If I had waited till I got to the peak and gotten over the literal hump, I would have seen that I was fine, or at least less inclined to want to quit. Round and round my squirrel brain went, unable to pinpoint exactly why I gave up.

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The snow came down a bit more. I was grateful that it was snowing and not raining. After hours of solitude, I passed a hiker. Then a couple, and then several more couples. And then I saw a girl trail runner.

She smiled at me. She had two hoods on, I didn’t recognize her; it was Lexi! OMFG! She decided to come out anyway and run me in the last mile. She parked way down the road next to some other car with Texas plates, had run the other direction, got the feeling she was going the wrong way and turned around and headed this way. She’d already run four miles. She was just as excited that she actually found me. I couldn’t believe the luck!

The whole way back, I was floored that she chose to run me in the last few miles without even knowing if she could find me. Most people would have just stayed at home and called it good. Even after I realized my legs were fine, I was resigned to quit. Her thoughtfulness saved my run. And for that, I thanked her profusely.

We ran back to my car and I resupplied. I wasn’t hungry, but Lexi suggested that I should eat whether I wanted to or not, which is almost always smart advice.  We tried to cook up an instant heat up O-meal. You add water to this heating element and it cooks the food super fast. We added the water, wait almost 10 minutes…. nothing happened. Maybe the element is bad? Throw the wasted heating element in my bag. Took out the heating element from another meal, added water… again nothing!  Then all of a sudden, the first element starts steaming furiously. I grabbed the bag and pluck out the element. Then again the other element goes off. It might be the cold, but I will never buy an O-meal again. I didn’t end up eating anything, but did have two beers as were “cooking.”

We discussed where we should run. Since I hadn’t been able to reach Mount Aire, I suggested we give that a try. The route was clear and involved no bushwhacking. I felt good physically. More importantly, mentally and emotionally I was a new man.

 

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We ran down the trail and found the entrance to Mount Aire. We trucked upward in the muck and snow. I was moving as fast as a glacier. Eventually we made it to the peak. Surveying our surroundings, there was a huge peak to the east. Curious, I looked at the Gaia app. It was Mount Aire. We were on the wrong peak. (Insert eye rolling emoji.) It looked pretty formidable and was at least another 800′ of climbing. We were both pretty tired at this point and neither of us wanted to climb it, but we were so close and FutureSelf piped up that we would regret it if we didn’t.

So we started up the switchbacks.

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It again began snowing. I don’t know how she does it, but Lexi was wearing short shorts and wasn’t fazed at all by the cold. We made it to the peak and couldn’t see much. We took a quick photo and immediately headed back down to get out of the cold. We saw a sliver of blue sky on the way down. Incredibly, once we had reached the ground, the sky behind Mount Aire was all blue.

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The return run was fun. As we drew closer, I could smell the barn. We did some fartleks, and for a few of them, I ran hard. It was fun, joyful running.

I finished with 23 hours, but I still consider it a success considering I was going to quit after only 18. No need to find a silver lining here. Still cannot believe how this turned out. Super stoked to have had friends join me for this adventure. No one got hurt, we didn’t die, and we’ll probably do it again sometime.

24 HR Training Run Planning

So as part of my training for The Franklins 200, I’m going to attempt to run 24 hours after work this Saturday. Plan is Work from (essentially) 7 am – 4:30 pm, drive to the trailhead (Possibly take a short nap) and then start running and hiking. I’ve told a few of my coworkers and invited them to join me. I can’t back out now because I’ll look like a chump. Also it’ll be fun to run with some of them… if any of them decide to show up. It’s going to be tough because if I manage the whole thing, I’ll have been up around 36 – 40 hours all told. I am planing now so that I can be prepared and pull this off. Here are the things I am looking at right now. Pack is going to be full and heavy.

  • Food – Need enough calories in my pack for several hours. What will this include? Bacon, peanut butter, avocado… Waffles… nuts and raisins… cookies, lots of cookies… burritos, pizza… Will have more food in the car, which should be centrally parked to allow easy access from multiple directions. Bringing either a Jetboil and/or a cooktop in order to make hot food. Or even those heat up with water deals would work. Regardless, at some point, hot food is a must. Hot coffee and/ or broth would also be ideal.
  • Water – Big jug of water in the car. Will carry a water filter and back up bottle. Might stash some bottles during tomorrow’s run just in case. Cooler filled with all the usual liquids: Chocolate milk, Arizona iced tea, sparkling water, Coke and/or Mt Dew, Gatorade, coconut water, NUUN tablets would be nice. And of course, BEER.
  • Clothing – Need at least one change of clothes in the car.  Wear waterproof socks. Rain gear: carry or car? (Should carry, right? Check weather forecast.) Two pairs of gloves, two buffs. Will I need my old man hat? A hat of some sort. Sunglasses and clear glasses for the night. Keep puffy jacket in the car for when I take a break.
  • Shoes – All my current shoes are in the middle of their lifespan, I can tell that they are on the way out. I may purchase a new pair for this event. Will wear the usual two pairs of socks and gaiters. Carry a spare pair of socks in plastic bag in my pack. May need to upgrade to waterproof gaiters if possible. DEFINITELY will buy Microspikes. Not sure if I will need them for whatever route I come up with, but I will need them eventually.
  • Gear – External battery to recharge phone and Garmin. Cables for both. Waterproof pouch to contain them all. SET ALARM ON PHONE TO REMIND ME TO START CHARGING GARMIN. Headlamp and spare batteries. Spare headlamp: carry or car? (Should carry, right?) Bring waist light. Poles with spare poles in car. Cell Phone with downloaded maps. Phone battery has been draining very rapidly of late. May need more than one external battery. (Carry one and have one in the car.) Carry little first aid kit. (although honestly I don’t even know the first thing about first aid.) Emergency blanket. May bring GoPro.
  • Navigation – will be mainly by cell phone using GAIA and All Trails apps. Will have a paper map as backup. Maybe even just use that.
  • Sleep – Plan to get up early (5am) on Friday so that I will be plenty tired and get to bed sooner on Friday night. Will be waking around 5:30 on Saturday.

How do I plan to meet my friends? Where will we meet? Should I just do repeats on something so that it’s easier? Where do I park? Is it going to be okay there overnight?

Some way to make funny signs for my buddy Dustin. Bring a marker and white board?

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My last thing is figuring out a route. There are a lot of trails in the area that i’ve not been on. I want to hit several peaks, but don’t want to do anything too risky.  I want to be somewhat near the car so if I need anything I can get it, but also as an easy spot to meet my friends. Wherever I park, I need to make sure that I can leave my car there overnight.

I have the next day off: Recovery Plan.

  • First thing is usually to rehydrate and drink as many liquids as I like.
  • Get home and get showered, and in comfortable clothes.
  • Should have some quality food that I can just heat up, although that may look like just a pizza. A steak would be dope. Have both and choose depending on how tired I am. I haven’t drunk much beer in the last two weeks or so, I will have earned a few if I pull this off.
  • If I’m not immediately tired, write about how it went. What worked and what didn’t. Any aches or pains, how are my feet? Edit photos.

This will be a pretty big adventure and so I’m pretty excited. I’ve not run on the majority of the trails that I am looking at, so I don’t know what to expect. While I know I can run for 24 Hours, and be awake for 36, I don’t want to be overconfident. Route wise, maybe what that means, is to do all the fun exploration scary stuff at the beginning while I’m fresh, and do easy familiar stuff at night and/or while I’m tired. Whatever happens, you’ll hear about it soon enough.

 

 

BIGFOOT 200 BROMANCE

The anticipation and suffering are over, the sleep debt is slowing being repaid, and the dust is settling on Bigfoot 200 2018. Overall, it went pretty darn well. It’s a heck of a lot to remember what happened and in what order. Probably not much technical information, more of just a long story about the goofy stuff that happened. There’s like 100% chance I have things mixed up as to where and when things actually happened.

We stayed at the Lone Fir resort, a mere 25 minutes from the start, which was nice in that we didn’t have to take the 2 hour bus ride from the finish like most folks.  The next night Erin joined us. We had front door entertainment with a nest of baby birds. The parents were clearly agitated and flew around squawking at us. We had room for seven, but the first night it was just Dustin and me.

Packing drop bags was an ordeal. We both had four drop bags that would move to another station. And we also had a bag that our crew would carry. The main question was where to put shoes since there were a few aid station that we would not have crew. Eventually we each figured out our plan. We went to bed hoping that we had chosen well.

I came up with a new food product idea called Snack Log. It consisted of some plain roasted almonds, two coconut date rolls, cola gummi bears, unwrapped Starbursts, and bite sized payday candy bars. The idea was that everything would eventually compact into one delicious log of snack food. Weird as it was, it worked well and tasted good.

We got to the start. We used the bathroom, took some photos, and ate some of the breakfast they had for us. (Protip: always bring TP with you when using a port a potty, just in case.)  I had painted my poles to look like blind person poles (mainly so someone wouldn’t take mine by mistake, but also cuz it’s funny) but not a single person noticed. Soon, the shorter distances started their races. One somewhat amusing scene was about four minutes after the races started, a woman came back to start almost in tears because she didn’t know where the group went…

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All the 200 mile runners scrambled to pose for a group photo and then started the race started at 9. It was finally time to do this thing. We trotted off into the woods, hooting and hollering. I was expecting some new lows, a lot of darkness and sleep deprivation, and maybe (hopefully?) some hallucinations.

The first portion of the race was hot and super exposed. Lots of rocks, dust, and of course, climbing. The group was still clustered together, so it was slow going. Some of the 20 miler folks started running past us. Eventually things opened up and we had more breathing room. We got out to a very open exposed area. It was hot, but nothing unmanageable. And there were a few streams along the way where we could splash some cold water on our face.

 

 

 

During this section, we encountered two dehydrated /heat stroke runners (both were running shorter distances). The first guy wasn’t too bad off. The second guy we saw was in way worse shape, having thrown up “13 times” already. We gave him some Enduralytes and some water… which he promptly and very vocally threw up. He was in no condition to run, and was a good distance from the aid station. We told him if he could make it to the hill where the out and back started, there were plenty of people and they could have a car pick him up. We stayed with him a bit, and he seemed a tiny bit better and he told us to take off. Not a mile later, there was a stream crossing which he would have had to have passed if he went the right way… Did he totally miss it?

Anyway, my takeaway from this is when it’s hot, always have extra salt pills and water. Even in just the two months I’ve been in Utah, I’ve run into several folks in the same situation. Help them out and stick around for a while. Sometimes just having someone else there is comforting.

We later met Sandra and ran with her for a few miles. She took the best photo of the trip for us. We would leapfrog with her for the rest of the race and then finally catch up to her at the very end (by sprinting) and we all three finished at the exact same time. (Actually she crossed the line first, but our results are recorded as the same time.)

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As the first night wore on, it became increasingly misty. Here we kept trading places with Adrian, the guy from Australia. We’d be stopped and then he stop and sit with us, like this for hours. We got pretty good at taking breaks.  This section went on for seemingly forever. It seemed like we’d never reach the aid station. Adrian caught up to us. He said that the photographer told him it was only 1.4 miles to the finish. We were excited to finally finish this section. But after 1.4 miles, there was no aid station in sight. After two miles, still no aid station. The dusk turned to dawn and finally after closer to 4.4 miles we heard people and saw the aid station. Funny note, this was a sleep station we planned on sleeping at. Neither of us noticed the tents (where the sleeping was supposed to happen) and thus we just slept in our chairs.

 

While it was super annoying at the time, this 1.4 business turned into a running joke. Anytime someone asked how far it was or how much further we had to go, the answer was always 1.4 miles. We made the joke often enough, I thought it would be funny when 1.4 was the actual answer.  There was a photographer at the top of Elk Peak who told us the distance to the next aid station… 1.46 miles. We laughed and were skeptical… was he the same photographer who had misinformed us earlier?

During the day, the weather threatened rain but delivered only a short shower. We were constantly putting on our rain gear, over heating, and taking it off. Dustin had it worse since he runs hot. We were constantly stopping and probably spent at least two hours just changing. I’m glad we didn’t get any downpours, especially during the night.

img_20180812_084403Mile 91 Ed joined us and began his pacing duties. Ed is great because he has a lot of stories to tell. He likes to tell the stories about the audio books he’s listening to. Surprisingly, I don’t recall many audio book stories. He did tell us about an art exhibit he saw at the Guggenheim. Apparently it was just “a bunch of dots.” As he told us about it, he started getting angry, which is weird because he is a totally chill guy. I’d heard this story before, so I wanted to mess with him and asked him, “a bunch of ducks?” He kept telling his story and we “misheard” everything as relating to ducks. And then after the joke sort of died down, I remembered that we had passed a giant downed tree that had been carved with the direction: “DUCK.” How funny it would have been if we had run into that AFTER the joke began. Definitely one of those you-had-to be-there things, but it was hilarious. This instantly became a running gag and will probably never die.

We were getting close to the Lewis River aid station where Ed would stop pacing and Erin would start her first stint. There was a runner we had been leapfrogging with all day. He always looked kind of grumpy and so we referred to him as “grumpy guy.” We were moving along and he was up ahead. I felt good and pushed down this wide open fire road. I pass grumpy guy, and then he speeds up and passes me. I yell, “So it’s going to be like that?!” and catch up. We are cruising along, sort of racing. We start talking and the guy is actually really nice (and not grumpy). His dad is his crew, but he’s intimidated by the next section because of the water crossings. So we make a plan to leave together after getting 2 hours of rest.

Oh and then one of the other runner’s (Linda) “surprise pacer” drops her because he has a long drive home and has to work in the morning. He is headed back to the Lewis River aid station to pick up his truck. He runs with us for a bit and we chat and then we split up. Just as we sit down and start to eat and relax, dude shows up and starts telling us that his truck isn’t here and that the girl that borrowed it is probably lost and that the ham radio guys can’t call out because someone is lost and he keeps going on and on, almost as if it were our fault or there was something we could do about it. After 10 minutes of complaining, the girl who borrowed the truck pops out from a nearby tent. JFC!

We ate our first(?) hamburger of the race here and slept. It was cold and dark when we headed out. I was concerned about the water crossing because wet feet and cold temperatures sounded like the making of a miserable night. Possible hypothermia and/or trench foot from wet shoes. Our plan was to take off our socks and remove the insoles. Once we got across we put our stuff back on. It sort of worked, but walking through the water was shockingly cold, it may have been better and faster to have just left our socks on. The second water crossing was even worse because it was further.

Justin, aka grumpy guy,  hangs with us for a while. He’s done Moab and Tahoe, so this race finishes off the collection for him. He is a new dad and works with lasers or laser motors or something high-tech. Eventually he drops off, I don’t recall why. We never saw him after that. And unfortunately, we missed his finish.

Erin got us through the night and we started our third day.

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At the top of Elk Peak, who else would we see but Scott. We played leapfrog with him for what seemed like the entire race. We would be up front, taking a break, and then he’d run up on us and pass us. At one point, he was probably -rightfully- exasperated at all the back and forth and when he saw us, he exclaimed, “For fuck’s sake!” It was pretty funny.

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And funny enough, going through my photos, I took ONE photo at the race briefing. I blindly took a photo of everyone seated behind me, and who happened to be sitting right behind us??

 

 

Erin traded pacing duties with Ed at Klickitat. Somewhere along the way we stopped at a swimming hole and got in the water. It was a great little reviving break. We were able to wash off some of our funk. We saw both Sandra and Scott there.

 

I think the next major event was the bugs. Not being able to stop and rest because of the GD bugs. Mainly, they were small fly like insects and maybe a few mosquitoes. They had no fear response, so they were super easy to kill. But what they lacked in life preservation, they made up for in numbers. As soon as you killed one, there’d be another. And another. And another. You’d think that running would make it harder for them to land on you. Nope! They could land on you just as easily. Occasionally, they would bite. It was maddening. The whole section was bugs. Dustin was getting upset at this point and swiping at flowers along the trail. This was the only time I’d ever seen him upset. After we escaped the flies, I thought it would have been hilarious if some of the finisher buckles had incorporated some of the flies.

Another one of my crazy ideas during this section: log penises. There was a fallen log that looked semi phallic. I thought how funny would that be for a person to come out here and carve one of these logs into… a giant penis. After running for so long, people would be sure to think they were hallucinating. No one else seemed to think it was funny.

Getting to Twin Sisters was probably the section that seemed incredibly long and cover way more distance. From the split to the aid station was something like 2.7 miles, it seemed like an eternity before we got there. Weirdly enough, leaving, it seemed like a third of the time. For sure, one’s sense of time gets majorly warped after so many miles.

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At Twin Sisters, Ed finished his pacing duties with about 70 miles. Dustin’s dad had set up a tent for us to sleep in even though we’d only be there for an hour. Erin took over and would take us to the finish.

 

Somewhere during that night, we sat on a peak and watched the stars. There was supposed to be a meteor shower. We sat there lights off and watched. We saw a few falling stars and one intense meteor. We descended and Erin managed to trip on some undergrowth twice in ten minutes. This was kind scary because it was a steep drop off. We encouraged her to be careful and not die. She didn’t trip anymore after that.

There was a long field section where we ran for a good stretch. Poor Dustin had been dealing with foot pain for the last however many miles and yet he soldiered on. I could tell he was in pain, but he never really complained about how it hurt. So I was plenty impressed how he managed the last 30 miles.

 

Fun pit stop. Candace had told us there was a surprise waiting for us. I had totally forgotten about that. She had left two bottles of tequila on the course for us. Normally, I;d pass, but figured what the hell. Dustin and I took a shot. And then Erin joined us.

We finally reached Owens, the last aid station. It was a great feeling knowing that this was the home stretch. the only thing left was a 13 mile stretch of … road. Super easy to run, but still tortuous at this point. We ate and relaxed a bit. Dustin practically interviewed Linda’s crazy Czech pacer Sharka (sp?). and the best moment was when we saw the whiteboard that had the food menu. On it was written the phrase so often heard at trail races that is overused and almost meaningless: You’ve got this.IMG_2411

Geez Louise, is this thing over yet? The last 13 miles on road were slow going. Dustin’s foot was slowing his mobility. Our spirits seemed to be flagging, so I took out my phone and played some music to revive our spirits. At first it was The Final Countdown. Then it was music from the Super Mario Bros video games. Earlier, I had told a joke I had heard years ago from Chris Porter’s daughter: What kind of pants does Mario wear? (Or what are Mario’s pants made of?) the answer is “denim, denim, denim.” which sounds like the sound track to one of the levels. So I found a bunch of Mario soundtracks in hopes of finding the level that sounds like denim, denim, denim. And then we listened to Reggie Watts, some Louis CK, Pandora, and came back around to The Final Countdown.

img_20180814_053820And here we took the first, only, and best “ditch nap.”

 

The sun was coming up. We were about to cross the main street in Randle, this car pulls up beside us. Guy and a girl, girl rolls down window, “What  y’all running for?” “It’s a 200 mile race.” She looks at us like we’re crazy.

The last four miles are excruciating. And then we see Ed and Katherine! Our spirits buoy a bit. And then we see Sandra up ahead and decide to catch her.

 

We start jogging. This feels good, pick it up a bit, then faster and faster until we are full on “sprinting”. Sandra sees us and starts running. We turn into the parking lot and get onto the track. We catch up to Sandra and just walk with her and her pacer. We round the track to cheering and cowbells. We ask Sandra to cross first, then Dustin and I cross at the same time. We are done. 206.5 miles, 93 hours 14 minutes later we are finished.

crossingSurprisingly, this wasn’t as bad as I anticipated. My feet were in decent shape with only a few minor blisters. My muscles weren’t feeling abnormally sore. I could walk normally. We came in two hours under our projected time. We definitely could have come in a lot sooner if we had more urgency. But as this was debut 200, I though a conservative approach was wiser. In February, we will be running The Franklins 200. But this time, there will be no bromance. There will be a great sense of urgency as there is a cash prize up for grabs. The training begins… soon

 

I would like acknowledge and thank Ed, Erin, Katherine, and Donna & Craig, aka “Mom and Dad”. Their help and support made a HUGE difference. Knowing that our crew was going to be there for us and that we would have a pacer was priceless.

 

 

 

 

 

Bighorn 100 race report

The race definitely did not go as well as I had hoped.

My main issue was the inability to take in calories during the second half of the race. I also had some issues with feet because of my socks, but that wasn’t as big of a deal.

On race day, I felt slightly panicked about the rain since both my rain jackets were in my drop bags. All I had was my hot weather gear.  I didn’t have any other clothes with me, if it rained, I would get cold quick. I remembered I had the race shirt, a half zip long sleeve. I took that and was glad I did, because I ended up using it.

I was so focused on having a plan in place and sticking to the plan, that it never even occurred to me that the weather might be different. The crazy thing is, I had checked the weather the days before and the day of the race, saw the rain forecast of 60%, but I still expected the weather to be hot. I think that’s called tunnel vision?

The first half of the race went well. We were fortunate to have plenty of cloud cover all day. I had expected Texas style heat for the first 30, and was happy to not have to deal with the heat. Surprisingly, the long climb out of the gate didn’t bother me that much. Could be fresh legs, but the climb into Jaws didn’t seem that bad either. There were definitely slow and tough sections, but mentally I was okay with it.

The cloud cover eventually turned into rain. It never seemed like it was raining that hard, but it was a constant drizzle for 50 miles. Somehow it created a mind boggling amount of mud. And worse, the mud was a greasy slippery slidy mud. The kind that could be fun if this was a mud fight, or you were sliding down it into a pool, but it not good for running. You could see on the ground the patches of parallel lines where someone foot had slid across the mud. Amazingly, I never fell once. That bit of luck I would attribute 100% to my poles.

The week before the race, Travis came into the store and we chatted about the race. He had run Bighorn twice before, finishing once and DNFing the other time. I asked him if he thought we needed poles, he said he didn’t think so. This surprised me, I planned to use them regardless. And I am super glad I did. I used them the whole race. The only point I didn’t want them was the last 5 miles.

I got to the halfway point 2 hours ahead of my planned time. When Rob told me that, I was stoked. I was feeling great considering the conditions. But what goes up, must come down.

As I sat there trying to eat, changing my shirt and getting into a sweater and a jacket, in the span of just a few minutes, I begin to shiver uncontrollably. I never felt terribly cold on the way up to Jaws, but I guess the rain and cold added up. They wrapped a blanket around me and stuffed my shirt with two big heated gel things to get my core temp up.

Know this future Bighorn runners: Jaws was nuts. There were so many people crammed into this tiny tent. People walking all over each other, crew tending to their runners, volunteers checking on runners, at one point, a dude’s butt was in my face as he changing socks or whatever he was doing. It is seriously tight quarters, so be warned. Everyone wanted a seat by the heaters, but there were very few seats to be had. Make sure you or your crew has a big warm blanket for you.

Here is where my race went south. I changed my shirt and and jacket, but I didn’t change my socks. There was so much mud and water crossings, it seemed pointless. But here’s the deal: as you wear the socks hour after hour, they sort of lose their shape and move around, which can cause blisters. If you change socks, those new socks will hold their shape for the first few hours and won’t (Or are less likely) to cause blisters. At the very least, I should have taken the clean socks in a plastic ziploc and changed them along the way.  (Another mistake I made was not having two pairs of socks at the first and second aid stations, despite having had that on my pre race plan.)

You can never have enough socks during a 100 mile race in the rain and mud. Make sure that your socks are taller than your gaiters. Make sure to knock off as much mud from your gaiters when you change your socks – you don’t want dry mud falling into your new socks.

I don’t recall what I ate at Jaws. I asked Rob to grab a plate for me, but I ate very little of what was on the plate. I have learned that later in a race, my mouth gets dry and it’s hard to generate saliva, so everything is so dry I can’t eat it. I know now that I need to rely on more semi solid foods or maybe just do liquid nutrition entirely.

After I warmed up, Jake showed up. I gave him my seat and headed out. I knew I was lagging in calories, but I didn’t want to stop in the rain and mud. So I just kept running. At a certain point, it was maybe two hours I went without any major calories. I was shocked I was moving as well as I was, I thought (prayed) that maybe my body was using fat for fuel and everything would be okay so long as I stayed hydrated… Wishful thinking.

I got through the night in pretty good shape. I ran with a guy for a bit. I kept trying to drop him, but he clung on. Eventually, we started talking. He was a little spooked running alone at night. I passed a decent amount of people and felt good.

Then the bonk came.

And the hills showed up.

At one of the smaller aid stations, Jake and his pacer Cam caught up to me. I tried to run with them, but couldn’t keep up. Jake was running strong.

Later I caught up to Travis at Footbridge. He was debating dropping because he was having some knee pain and didn’t want to risk further injury because he wasn’t getting any traction with his Calderas. I told him not to quit, he didn’t want to be the only one in the group to DNF.

And then I teased him because he had two wooden sticks he was using for poles.

Maybe that was bad karma, as I left the aid station, I kept running straight down the road instead of making the turn across the bridge. Luckily, a runner that was coming to collect his drop bag told me I was going the wrong way. I was only half a mile out, but that was still demoralizing. I walked back to the aid station with him and thanked him for saving my ass.

Travis had taken off running pretty hard thinking I was ahead of him. He must’ve been totally bewildered that he never caught me.

The rest of the race was running a bit and then hiking a bunch. There were several uphill sections that seemed to go on just forever. At one aid station, the guy said, “It’s just one 300 foot climb and then it’s literally all downhill.” I honestly don’t know what a 300 foot climb looks like. But going up that hill, all I could think was either the guy was kidding, he thought it was 300 ft, maybe he meant 3000 ft, or I am about to die. We have nothing remotely close to that climb in Texas. It wasn’t technical, it was just loooooooong.

 

The second day of the race, the weather was absolutely gorgeous. When I could take my eyes off the trail and look around, it was beautiful. I regret not taking a camera or a phone to take photos. The smell of the flowers, the colors of the flowers, all the freaking trees everywhere, it was pretty amazing.

My watch died 10 miles or so from the finish. This was infuriating because I had no idea how close I was until I hit an aid station. During those miles, I asked literally a dozen people how far it was to the finish and not one of them knew. I was utterly surprised since most of them were 50 milers. How do they run without knowing how far they are?? But that’s my problem, not theirs.

Eventually, I hiked into the finish. Rob joined me on his bike about a mile out. I was so happy to finish, happy to be done. 32 hours 17 minutes. Far short of my goal of 28 hours, but maybe next time. Right now, all I can think of is working on my nutrition strategy so that this doesn’t happen again.

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My feet have never been so swollen!

Some additional notes:

Know where packet pickup, start and finish is. Know how to get there.
Know how the shuttle works since the start and finish are different locations.

Always label your drop bags yourself. Big and clear: Name, bib #, AS
Make sure drop bags are waterproof.

Have snacks readily available and /or schedule time to eat when traveling. Especially for before and on race day. Consume massive calories day before.

Plastic bag to keep dirty/wet stuff separate from unused/ dry gear, Especially in drop bag.

Notecards w/ instructions to remind yourself of things to do, ie contacts, change socks

WATERPROOF BOOTS W/ GATORS, forgoing that, change socks even if it seems pointless. As time goes on, the socks move around and bunch. A fresh pair stays put longer.

Make sure start kit has everything you need, dont forget trail toes!

Short shorts are okay in cold, but not if it rains.

How to get calories late in the race: liquid calories.

Avoid getting coke or broth two aid stations in row. Skip one or two so that you dont burn out on it. Water down coke. Carry tums if stomach turns acidic.

Put tape on middle section of poles, they are cold at night.

Learn what poison ivy looks like.

Two Chargers for watch.

You can never have enough socks for 100 miles.
Socks need to be taller than gaiter!

How to deal w/mass dirt post race laundry.
Separate dirt (socks, gaiters) from sweaty.

Ice pack
Ear plugs

 

Hippie Hill Challenge

A month ago, I was psyched about this challenge. But this past week, I didn’t run a single mile and I was dreading the event. I don’t know if it was fatigue, burnout, or just plain laziness, but I just didn’t want to run. And I sorta still feel that way, which is worrisome.

The night before, I prepped all my stuff. I read the final email and set my alarm for 5:30, which would give me an hour to have a decent breakfast. However I missed a small detail about the start time – I had put it on my calendar as 7am when it was actually a 6am start. So my alarm goes off at 5:30, I get out of bed at 5:40, and then I get a text from my buddy Dustin at 5:41: “I’m on my way… gps says 5:55.” I’m wondering why the hell would he get there so early. I reread the final email and see the 6am start time. FUCK!!

Dustin
Dustin Photo credit: Don Flynn

In semi-panic mode, I get dressed, grab my stuff, pack ice into my cooler, and get on the road. I drive as fast as I can, and arrive only 10 minutes late. I parked next to a truck, the guy getting out was like, “You’re late too?” My stomach had been churning on the drive. I ran behind some dumpsters and took a quick dump. That was a good start.

And then the “fun” began. Half mile uphill, then a half mile back down. Four hours and 20 minutes of that. But at least there were a lot of other runners there to share in the miser… fun. I had my ipod and was trying to untangle the headphones. It was way more difficult than it should have been. I finally got them untangled one I reached the top of the hill for the first time. I put the earbuds in and pressed the play button…. beep! beep! beep! The ipod was dead. I know I charged it, but I must have accidentally left it on and drained the battery. I laughed and wondered what else could wrong.

Halfway into the race, a light drizzle turned into a full on rain that lasted maybe 10 minutes. Although I was concerned about how it might affect the footing on the course, it was kind of refreshing.

Tuffy
Tired of it. Photo credit: Don Flynn

The first three hours went by like clockwork, trudge uphill, and then coast down. My left foot developed an issue that made it hard to run downhill. I think what little arch I have in my foot collapsed inward more than usual, likely a result of not running the past week. It wasn’t painful, but I could tell that it was definitely not normal. I was concerned it was going to get worse, so I slowed down on the downhills.

I had one bright spot during the race. Running beside Tanya:

Me: I am so over this.

Tanya: Yeah, me too.

Me: I am so tired of running downhill!

The last hour was tough. Mentally, I was running on empty and I wanted to quit.

In retrospect, it seems silly that you want to quit running so bad. Those moments that you are in, you’re tired, your feet hurt, maybe you’re hungry, your head hurts, and all you can think about is stopping this nonsense. That’s all you can think about. But time passes and somehow you get through it, the clock stops, and you can finally stop running. Later you think, “That wasn’t so bad. I don’t know what I was complaining about.” You sort of forget the struggle. Four hours and 20 minutes is a drop in the bucket compared to most ultras, so I’m a little disappointed that my mental game suffered.

I’m glad I didn’t quit, despite the foot and mental issues. And especially glad that after the 24th lap, with 10 and a half minutes remaining in the race, I went out for one more. 10 and half minutes is plenty of time to get one lap done. I knew my future self would berate my weak willed past self if I would have stopped.

That gave me 25 laps, one shy of my goal of 26. Had I been on time, I’m sure I would have hit that goal. Driving home, I thought I should have done an extra mile after the race. Oh well.

Hippie Hill
Hippie Hill Challlengers  post-race. Photo credit: Don Flynn

Putting it in perspective: Be on time. Suffering is commensurate to the size of the race. Expect that suffering and accept it gratefully when it arrives.

 

Crazy Desert Race 100K

“It’s only 100K with no hills.”

I regret going into the race with that sort of attitude. I didn’t prepare as well and my performance suffered as a result. I didn’t have a terrible race, but I know it could have been better. Many small things added up to a frustrating race.

One of the bigger culprits was not getting enough sleep. The day before the race, I got up before 6 to go hiking with a coworker, went to work, and then drove 3 hours to San Angelo, finally getting to bed around 11. That is far from ideal. Sufficient sleep is vital for good performance mentally and physically. When I started the race, my legs felt heavy.

I wore my newish Ultimate Direction hydration pack. I’ve worn it a few times, but never raced in it. I think it still needs to be broken in. Maybe 10 miles in, I noticed my bottle was jamming my rib cage, making a very tender spot. After I finished the first loop, I put on my old Salomon pack and it just felt great. I also love the huge back pocket that I can reach into without having to unzip or zip. Basically, these little gear niggles should be worked out prior to a race, not during.

Coming into the second to last aid station, I found out that the course mileage was off by 5 miles. I was heading into the last aid station when I should have been finishing the loop. This threw me off mentally. What would happen now? Would we have to run a 75miler? I imagined several possible scenarios that could play out, finally resolving not to sweat it, Rob would figure something out. No way would he make us run an extra 13 miles. Like I tell myself all the time, just focus on the mile in front of you.

The sky had been overcast for the entire first loop. It seemed like it was going to be a perfect day for running. Thinking it would stay that way was wishful thinking. Wishful thinking that got me mildly sunburned and drained quite a bit of energy from me.

My old man hat and ice bandana have saved me on numerous sunny occasions. I had them in my bag at the start/ finish, but chose not to bring them with me as I foolishly thought it would be overcast all day. Katie offered sunscreen, which I declined. 2 huge mistakes, likely due to lack of sleep and fretting about the course mileage issue.

The clouds burned off and the sun was in full effect. There was very little shade on the course, it was extremely exposed. Every I looked, there was cactus, as if to remind me that I was in the desert. I used my buff as an ice bandana, and that worked okay. Proper ice bandana is way faster to fill and wear. There wasn’t much I could do about the sun. Whenever I saw shade, I stopped and took a short break.

Hydration and nutrition were okay. Shat once before the race, but still had enough for three more times during the first loop. Wore Calderas first loop, but switched into Lone Peaks for the last two loops. Forgot iPod on second loop, only had music for last loop.

I have never looked at my watch so many times during a race. It became incredibly frustrating near the end trying to figure out how much longer I would be running. I wanted to do 12 hours, and kept trying to calculate in my head if I could. Each time I did the calculations, my results changed. That was pretty demoralizing. And add to that the fact that we had to run a few extra miles because of the marking error, so I wasn’t entirely sure how close I was to the finish.

Leapfrogged with several runners, including Julie of course. Finally caught up to Dustin in the very last mile. He had been puking but was moving. I didn’t stop to talk or run wit him, I just ran past him. Finished in 12:58 for 5th. Dustin showed up two minutes later to finish in 13 hours on the nose for 6th and Julie came in at 13:01 for 7th. She won 100k last week and again this week. Amazing.

So while not a terrible race, it was a far cry from the planning and execution of the last race. What’s worse is that now I am behind in points (but I think just barely) for the Desert trail race series. The winner of the three race series gets $500. I’ve never won any money from running, and it would be awesome if I did. The last race is the Franklin Mountain 50K in November. It looks like if I want to win that money, I am going to have to train, plan, and race my ass off. So maybe being behind is a good thing, providing me the motivation to focus on the task ahead.

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Lone Star 100 Mile Race Report

Dustin and I were driving home. We’re cruising along @ 84 miles per hour for several hours. It starts raining, and then its an intense downpour. I slow down to 60. It suddenly feels like we’re crawling. I ask Dustin how fast he thinks we’re going. He thinks 30 or 40.

 

When you’re used to going a certain speed for so long, a change can seem way more dramatic than it really is.

I was really looking forward to seeing my splits for the portion where I finally caught up to Gerardo. However, I was greatly disappointed. Instead of the sub 8’s I thought I was doing – even if for only a mile or two – turns out my fastest mile for that section was only 9:48 (with a grade adjusted pace of 10:44 since it was downhill.) I could swear I saw a pace faster than that. Regardless, that just shows how unreliable our perception of time and pace can be. After averaging 17 or 18 minute miles for the last 30 hours, 10 minute miles seem like you’re flying.

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Before the race, I tried to plan and be as prepared as I could for the race so that I could go into the race feeling confident. I wanted to take out any the usual stresses of preparing for the race so that I could focus on just running. I made my list and shared it with Julie, Dustin and Jake.

Driving up, I ate half a Subway footlong for breakfast, a Whataburger meal for lunch , and some Mexican food for dinner. I definitely think all those calories helped fuel me.

(Of course I shat a dozen times during the race, but that’s part of the deal.)

Loop 1

When our race began, all I could think about was how incredibly crazy windy it was during the start of the 50K in September.

I ran with Dustin for the first loop. I met him at Cactus Rose two years ago. He was doing the 100 miler… on 15 miles a week. I don’t know how he managed that. Apparently, he was doing Lone Star on even fewer miles. He said he has an unusually low resting heart rate, so maybe that has something to do with it. We’ve run several races together, but we weren’t sure if this was going to be a full bromance.

 

dustin
Dustin at the peak. Photo credit: Myke Hermsmeyer

The afternoon was beautiful, but it got a bit too warm for comfort. Dustin has had heat related issues before, so we ran super easy. The course is extremely exposed, so whenever we came across some shade we took a short break. We looked for shade that included slabs of rock because the shaded rocks themselves were cool to the touch. We called these “premium” shade. We saw several runners with only a single water bottle, which seemed like a bad idea.

I was feeling pretty good. Ice bandana was going its job. Dustin had gotten quiet and was slowing down. We talked and I was going to take off on my own for loop 2.

Loop 2

I changed both pairs of socks, my shirts and my shorts. Trying to change into compression shorts with your shoes still on inside of a porta potty is not easy.

I spent a good chunk of time at the aid station. When I left, I saw that I was right at 10 hours.

I always start out in front of Julie, but she always catches up and passes me. I caught up to her and was feeling good, so I pressed on, trying to put some distance between us. I stopped at an aid station and not a minute after I got there, Julie shows up. I kept trying to outrun her, but she somehow kept making up the distance. We leapfrogged a few times. Joe updated us that Julie and I were fourth and fifth. Since Julie always beats me, I was content with fifth place.

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Julie and Joe near the peak. Photo credit: Myke Hermsmeyer

But I kept pressing. I was still ahead of Julie. She admitted that climbing was not one of her strengths. Joe gave us more updates about more people dropping. The third place guy was not doing well and was borderline DNF. I found myself in third. I tested out my new iPod entertainment: full audio of Simpsons episodes! There were some funny ones, but it didn’t motivate me to run fast. One of the lead guys dropped, I was in second.

Loop 3

Starting the third Loop, Rob confirmed that I was in second. He said that Gerardo was  40 minutes ahead, but wasn’t moving well / or was hurt / something to that effect. I told Rob, “I want to catch that guy.” 30 miles to make up a 40 minute lead seemed doable.

There was a section of huge rocks right before the peak that made progress glacial, which made staying awake difficult. So I laid down on the trail and took a “nap.” It was probably just two or three minutes, but it allowed my brain to reset and my heart rate to come down a bit. During the night, I took probably about a dozen of these naps.

Climbing the peak takes long enough as it is. And all I could think of was his lead was growing every second. Finally, I meet the guy as he’s coming down the peak.

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Gerardo. This guy has finished more hundreds than I’ve finished races. Super cool dude. Photo credit: Myke Hermsmeyer

It was the guy who’d given me a low five in passing. Struck me as odd the first time. Most runners just say “good job” or whatever, but this guy was making an actual physical connection and low fiving.

He asked me if I was doing my second or third loop. When I said third loop, we both knew. I said, “You’re the guy I’ve been chasing!” I’m not sure if he cared, but he took off downhill, he looked to be moving pretty well. I figured maybe he had gotten a second wind with the dawn. I saw Joe and he told me the guy was at Mundy’s at 6:55. When I left, it was like 7:30 (or so). I knew how much time I had to make up and began the hardest run I’ve ever done this late in a race.

For some dumb reason, I kept expecting him to be just around the corner, and of course he wasn’t. Several times I mistook other runners for him. I kept looking for signs of movement, hoping for just a glimpse of him in the distance. Nothing.

At the start of the loop, I was certain I would catch him. At the aid stations, I asked the volunteers how far ahead he was, and they told me about 30 minutes. And that he was walking. That gave me more hope. (But then I realized of course you walk from the aid station, he was probably still eating something.) I asked a 100Ker running toward me, how far ahead the other guy was, he was way ahead and made it seem like it would be impossible to catch him. Then I saw a couple and they told me he was moving really well. That further diminished my hopes. I vacillated between thoughts of “I can do this” to “second place is still pretty good.”

Julie had lent me a book, How bad do you want it? and that’s what I asked myself. I knew this was going to be a hard race just to finish, and here I was with an opportunity to actually win it?? Did I want to win – or settle for second? I decided to push till I either caught the guy or blew up. I was running at a pace that I thought was unsustainable. I knew there was no way that he was running as fast as I was because that would just be dumb. I put on my music and felt exhilarated as I was flying down the trail.

The motivation to actually win a race and set a course record was so energizing. I envisioned my name on Ultrasignup as a “top performer”, getting a 100% rating for once. I have no doubt someone will set a much faster record next year, but this year would belong to me! I kept pushing, occasionally taking walk breaks.

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This is what I was chasing.

I was waiting to bonk because I was having a hard time taking in calories. My source of calories were watered down coke, Gatorade, and a pitiful amount of M&M’s. Hardly the material to fuel 12 more miles of this intensity. I didn’t know how long I could keep this up, and even if I did catch him, would I be able to stay in the lead?

And then it happened, I see someone up ahead, it’s him. I blast my music to catch up to him, he sees me and he stops and waits for me. Not quite the showdown I imagined. I stop and we chat just a bit. I don’t remember what we said to each other, but he doesn’t seem to mind that I caught him. I am super amped on adrenaline, I shake his hand and take off in full sprint. I want to put as much distance between us as possible, because there is still a huge chunk of mileage to go and I could still manage to bonk.

I’m constantly looking over my shoulder, but there is no one. I drop my pace. No one is going to catch me, I just have to finish. The wind picks up and for the last 10 miles, LITERALLY DOES NOT STOP BLOWING FOR THE REST OF THE RACE. FOR REALS: NON STOP WIND.

One section was scary because I was heading for the pavilion, heading up this huge climb. I didn’t recall this way before, I thought I had taken wrong turn. My heart sank thinking I would lose the race because I didn’t pay enough attention to the signs. I was so far along, I couldn’t turn around, so I kept on going. Luckily, it was the right way.

As I got close to the top and this girl comes down. She asks me which way I came from, I said, “I don’t know, whichever the hell way I’m supposed to.” “Everyone else has been coming from the left and you came from the right…” “I’m not doing the 100K.” And then I continued up the hill.

The last 1.4 miles.

I got to the top of the pavilion (last year’s finish) and got some cheers from the volunteers. I still have some juice in me, so I put on some music and I sprint up the hill. I make it about half way before I realize I peter out and realize that I need to be careful. The wind is literally blowing me to the right.

During the 50K in September, we had to face the wind at the start of the race while we were fresh. And it eventually died off. But this is even worse. The wind is stronger, I just ran 100 miles, and there is absolutely no break in the wind. I am so close to the finish, and I practically have to crawl there. Oh and did I mention all the cactus I’m trying to avoid stepping in or being blown into?

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Last few steps! Photo credit: Myke Hermsmeyer

Hill after hill, this 1.4 mile section feels like 14. But then finally I can see the finish. A lump forms in my throat. I always get emotional after long races, this one has felt especially long. I run to the finish, never in my life have I been so happy to hear a cowbell.

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Overwhelmed! 31:25:07 Photo credit: Myke Hermsmeyer

 

 

Zion 100M

Waiting forever for a flight? Write a race report!

 

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All smiles before the race. 

Went with Elizabeth, my buddy Ed, and his gf Katherine.

 

Start was a hill. Slowish going, not bad, good warmup. Run behind Ed. Lots of dust. One spot had a rope to use or you could go around. Never seen that before. Chose to go around. First aid station top of hill. Do I need aid this early?

Starts getting light. You can see the scenery. Take shots with GoPro. Stash camera in pack. Stop to poop. Commence running again. More awesome scenery, grab camera and… I’ve been filming for 20 min. Definitely was filming during my poop break. Wonder how that’ll turn out. And I’ve managed to get separated from Ed. Don’t see him again till Mile 50 or so.
Running behind two guys. See kid up ahead, holding out his cupped hands.  He offers the first runner,  “Ca- SHOOS?” No thanks. And the second runner, “Ca-SHOOS?” No thanks. And them me, “I LOVE cashews!”  kid dumps some into my hand. I chastise the runner in front of me for not humoring the kid and taking some cashews. Dry and flavorless, I eat a few and chuck the rest.
Taking a selfie at a lookout. Put phone down, set timer. Hear what sounds like a horde of buzzing bees. Look around, it’s a freaking drone! I give it the peace sign, it hovers for awhile. I try and take my pictures, it’s still there. I give up and start running downhill. It follows me for a bit. I think, Okay. I’ll try and haul ass down a rocky descent, give it something worth filming.” But eventually it flies away, following a runner going uphill. Just as well. I sure hope there aren’t any drones when I have to, uh, you know.

 

Garmin 920xt failure. Feel smart for finally remembering to use Ultra Trac mode. Watch should last a long time. Miles are clicking by. Before I know it, I’ve done 20 miles. And then a few minutes later, 21 miles… Wait, that can’t be right- 21 miles in 3.5 hours? Ask a girl nearby what’s her mileage? 14. F*********ck! GPS is off by SEVEN miles? Rest of the race, hear the mile beeps but can’t look cause I know they are wrong. Makes the whole race a little more difficult not knowing what mile I’m at. (You could say,  “The aid stations are at known mileage points, just go by that,” but that doesn’t help.) Same thing happened to a guy I ran with, except he was smart enough to start his watch over at an aid station and use just regular GPS. I decided against that because …. I’m an idiot.

Adding insult to injury was when watch beeped low battery, after only about 20 hours. The Whole point of Ultra Trac is extended battery life. Now I don’t even get that? Next time, will try and use a charger during the run. Or bring along my old Garmin. (But that’s annoying to have two separate files for the race. Or is that just me?)

The big climb. Talked to a guy named Danny leading up to the climb. Said he’d run the race 5 times. Two other races he’d also done every year. As we began to climb the hill, he cursed at the hill, “Come on mother effer!” Very amusing. The hill was steep and longish, but didn’t seem that bad. Poles were a tremendous help. Made it about 2/3 up before I realized to turn around and look at the beautiful scenery behind me.

 

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Mile 35 doesn’t look like much a hill from the photo. 

 

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Got to the top, the volunteer recording our race numbers was a young girl about 12. She greets me with, “Alright! You made it to the top of that stupid hill!” I was like… Accurate!

This was probably the best section scenery wise. We ran along the edge of the mesa which provided some spectacular views, although these pictures don’t fully convey that.

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Paul, whose first 100 in the US got him one ticket, with which he got into Western States.

 

The rain finally shows up. I’m running down this dirt road that is quickly turning into the worst kind of thick mud. Super slippery, thick, and gloms onto your shoes, weighing you down. I come to a T section, there is a car stuck in the mud, and 3 cars waiting on it to get unstuck. For a split second, I feel like I should stop and help. See several other cars coming up the hill, tires spinning out because of the slick mud. Can only think that these people are morons. Film one girl driving a tiny ass car spinning out.

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Couldn’t figure how to edit video, so here ya go. 

Running out the red loop. Somehow miss the first turn. Run about a mile before I realize I’ve not seen ANY confidence markers. Think that’s okay, maybe they assume you know this must be the way. Did see one guy running opposite direction, so…. It must be… Turn around and run back. See a pair runners a bit aways, yell at them if they are doing the red loop. They are. I was def off course. Get back on, see where I made my mistake. I think I was readjusting my pack. Pretty upsetting but I don’t dwell on it that much. It’s about this time that I stop running and can only hike. My right shin has started to hurt.

The White and Blue loops were tough: I couldn’t run, I felt like the sections weren’t well marked, it was dark, I was alone, I’d heard all my music by this point, I wasn’t eating well because my stomach wasn’t happy. (At the aid station, I actually threw up for the first time during a race. It was just a little bit, nothing major, but still.) And it rained on and off, which had me taking off my pack to put on my jacket and then 10 minutes later taking off my pack so I could take off my jacket. And the miles seemed S U P E R  L O N G. BUT I never got to a really low point, my mental game was pretty good considering. I managed to slog through the night, and my spirits rose when it started to get light.

After I finished the blue loop, I was supposed to do the final trail section to the finish, but because of the rain, the course had been modified to have us run the dirt road back. This route was 2 miles shorter, but would still make for an exact 100 miles.

Walking out to start the very last section to the finish, I see a guy I thought I had left in the dust. Take off my coat and pack, try to stash my poles in my pack. He takes off running. Puts up a good distance while I’m fumbling with my pack. I start running, want to catch up. (He doesn’t know it, but he’s racing me.) Haul ass done a dirt road, stop to sh*t. Hope the guys I just passed are far enough back…  I pass a lot of people in this home stretch. Everyone is walking. Eventually catch up to him. I run 90% of the last leg. Final mile I see the 55kers heading out. Film that. Keep seeing roller after roller, more flags, wondering where the f#ck is the finish???

 

Finally see the inflated finish gate. Haul ass, pass 4 more guys. Run it in strong. Want to cry. Go to the finisher tent, lady basically tells me which one to pick. I’m done. I got my damn buckle.

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Ed and Katherine are at the finish. Ed dropped after I saw him last at the aid station. Katherine’s race got rerouted to a lame out and back on a dirt road, so she was able to defer till next year. We waited several hours for Elizabeth to finish. She also got rerouted but finished with only about 82 miles.

 

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Food wise: Pickles were good! And Bacon and Avacado. Quesadillas are okay, but tend to de dry and flavorless, which is a bad combo because it seems hard to generate saliva towards the middle and end of race. Need juicier things, things with higher water content. Also don’t eat or drink the same thing at every station. Especially soda, it makes my  stomach acidic. (At least in the quantities I ingest.)  Have to alternate or pace the soda intake. Alternate liquid nutrition with solid foods.

Dissolvable seltzer tabs helped. Ibuprofen always helps.

Bladder and a bottle. Best combination. Cannot overstate convenience of a drink tube.

Change of socks. Dry clothes. Bring even more pairs when expecting rain or tough environment. Vaseline and Double sock treatment kept me blister free. Do not care for La Sportiva Bushidos for more than 20 miles. Ran 50 in them and was glad to get them off. Good traction, but not entirely comfortable. Calf sleeves, still not sure about, but my calves weren’t terribly sore after the race, but then neither were my quads, so… Batteries. Extra headlamp. Gaiters. Need to order gaiters.

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My dopey new hat

New hat worked out beautifully, although it is kind of heavy and bulky. New rain jacket worked beautifully. Kept me dry and warm, did not overheat. Watertight bags worked fine. Not sure if they got rained on, but my stuff was dry. (They were also inside ziplocks, so they had better be.)
Changed contacts mid race. No issues with blurry vision. This was a huge win, as having an issue with my vision would have made the night that much more difficult. But it was hard to put them on. Need to practice without a mirror. Always have something clean to catch them on.

Naps. Took two (three?) 5 min naps. Points I felt woozy, like I was drunk. Glad I had my poles at the end. More sleep prior to race, especially if travel is involved.

One carry on bag only. Elizabeth had two(?!) suitcases and that was problematic. Always have a proper post race drop bag. Dry clothes, a blanket or hoodie, cash and ID. And beer and food if possible.

Walking was sore the next day, but not nearly as bad as in the past.

Touting the Twofer

I love my library. I love that I can borrow books, music cd’s, movies, and magazines. So much information available for free and all I have to do is return it on time. What a deal! The best part is there’s a branch not far from where I run most often. So I will run to the library to pick up or drop off items – literally running an errand. That was one of my first “Twofers.”

A few months ago, I started doing hot yoga, aka Bikram. My right knee felt weak and I asked one of the instructors for advice on how to strengthen it. He suggested trying the Cr***fit workouts at the Hollywood Park location. Since it’s part of my yoga membership, I figured I’d give it a try.

I went a few times, and it was actually “fun.” It certainly wasn’t as aggro as I imagined it would be. (But that’s probably because it’s a beginner’s class.) It was like going to the gym, but instead of having to figure out what to work on, someone tells me what to do and I try to do it. I liked that aspect very much and kept going back.

It takes about a half hour to drive to the location, so I decided to put that drive time to use. I started listening to my Thai language audio tapes. I don’t know how well it works since I’m half paying attention (since I’m driving) but I’m going to keep at it.

So the yoga studio is next door, and I would always see everyone in there practicing. It eventually occurred to me that I ought to try a Twofer. I was concerned I would be too tired to do an hour thirty in the hot room, but decided to give it a try. It was tough at first (and still is) but I got through it. It’s not so bad and now I look at he Cr***fit workout as a warmup to the hot yoga. The best part is I don’t have to think about when to go to yoga, at minimum, I go Tuesday and Thursday.

Today, I’m going to do a new Twofer- running to Yoga. The Huebner studio is only about 4.5 miles from my house, so that should be a pretty easy run. The weather today is perfect: cool and sunny. Once I get some new tires on my bike, I think riding to yoga would be another great Twofer option.

I use Strava to log my miles, and recently started taking Instagrams during runs – another Twofer! – and I’ll include those when I get back.

 

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