Category Archives: race report

DIE HARD

DIE HARD FLYER

Awhile ago I had an idea for a fatass that would be the “Dumbest Idea Ever,” or the DIE HARD on the Powerlines. I wanted a 24 hour and 12 hour timed event instead of a distance event. My friend Don and I had put on a 25k and 50K fatass on this course before, so I wanted to up the challenge. I put together my idea, and sent it out to the group. I added a 6 hour event because I figured more folks would join. The final list had around 40 folks signed up. Unfortunately, two of the other runners that signed up for the 24 hour event had to bow out due to injury. I would be the sole 24 hour runner.

IMG_20180330_204821.jpg
Rear and Front of the hoodie.

The week before was a mad scramble trying to purchase hoodies and then screen print them. The screen printing went okay, but I had a two color image that I didn’t have proper registration and/ or printing technique, so they came out a bit wonky. Still cool.

I worked the night before the event. Slept in till like 10, went to work at 11, got home at 8, packed all my food and gear. Ate at Whataburger at 11. Got to the Powerlines at 11:30. Took a 15 min power nap. Blaine and Daniel showed up. Jake was also there to cheer our start. I was bummed that he wouldn’t be joining me for the 24 hour, but thankful that Blaine and Daniel were starting with me. At midnight, the three of us unceremoniously took off. The moon was full and the weather was slightly chilly, perfect for running.

They took the lead and just fell to the back. Both of them were training for Bighorn, which they and a few other runners had signed up for after a few drinks at the bar. We talked about their plans and preparations and I found out that Daniel had never run an ultra before, and somehow signed up to run 100 miles? Hmmm…

The clouds began to roll in. Daniel called it quits after two laps due to a knee issue. Blaine called it quits after three laps due to a foot issue. After they left, I took another 15 minute power nap. I was kind of cold and wanted to warm up and mentally prepare for running solo till noon.

IMG_20180331_174734.jpg

Luckily for me, my friend Loren showed up. We ran together for a while, and then his military buddies show up – in road shoes. Then another surprise, Huw showed up. I ran with him while Loren guided his buddies. Huw and I ran into CJ and Anabel. By then it was around 9 or 10 and more people showed up. I started taking pictures of people as I saw them. I went old school with a point and shoot.

Throughout the day, I ran with almost a dozen people. They run for the time their schedule allowed and then depart. With it being Easter weekend, many people had family obligations.

At noon, the 12 hour people started. Had I planned better, I would have been there to see them off. The clouds had all burned off and it was getting warm. The 12 hour folks were in for a rough start.

IMG_2098.jpg
Blaine rocking the faux crop top

We talked about how daunting the power lines seem when you’re there to do two or more repeats. But now, because we had a bigger frame of reference, two didn’t seem like a big deal. Just keep plugging along and get through the mile you’re in. Before you know it, you’ve got 50K and still going for more. Crazy how the mind works like that.

Larry the Legend came out and kept trying to sell his 1994 Volvo with questionable transmission to us for $500. It was pretty amusing how he kept going on about it, despite the fact that we had zero interest in the deal. Amazingly, he did manage to get it sold that afternoon. He had promised to have his “popsicle stand” set up for the event. (He had done this for a previous fatass on these trails.) When we found out he hadn’t gotten any popsicles, we gave him quite a bit of grief. To our surprise, he came through later in the day when it was getting warm and the popsicles were greatly appreciated.

Jazzy kept me entertained for a good while as my “pacer.” She kept me in good spirits and managed to score two awesome carpet tiles from some of the fresh junk that had been dumped. I scored one blue tile. Jazzy told me she wanted to buy a Tacoma to tow her trailer (or whatever) and that she was selling her 2011 Subaru Outback… and now I am in the process of trying to buy that car. Test driving it tomorrow!

Got to send off the 6 hour runners. So anticlimactic.

Ran with Stephanie and she might be able to pace/ crew for me at Bigfoot, which would be huge. In the race recap email, I mentioned this and another runner emailed me saying that she would be interested in pacing/ crewing! Two possibles in two days! Lucky!

 

I learned that my dumb Garmin cannot be charged during a run. I plugged it in to my battery bank and when I was ready to go back out, the watch had reset. It’s not a big deal, but dammit Garmin! Make a watch for ultrarunners! I don’t need all the crazy fancy features, I JUST WANT A LOOOONG BATTERY LIFE. LIKE FOUR DAYS LONG. OR AT THE VERY LEAST, FIGURE OUT A WAY THAT ALLOWS US TO CHARGE THE WATCH DURING A WORKOUT.  IS THAT TOO MUCH TO ASK FOR?? SHEESH!

I had planned to hike more and eventually use my poles, but was feeling pretty good throughout the day. Like surprisingly good enough that I ran pretty much the whole time, never even thought about my poles, and was able to keep up with Stefan pushing me to my fastest miles at mile 70 and 71 (!!!)

This was definitely the highlight of the event for me.

It was just before sundown. Stefan, Blaine and I were running together. I put on some uptempo music on my phone and we started to pick up the pace. The music really got us going. Before you know it, were just like kids hauling ass down the trail. It felt wonderful to open up, I was surprised I was able to go as fast as I did for as long as I did. But eventually the adrenaline wore off and I was brought to a screeching hike. I was done. The return trip was slow, but Stefan stuck with me. I started formulating my excuse as to why I wanted to quit.

IMG_2085.jpg
Stefan the pusher

I had three more hours left, which should have been enough for one more loop to make it 79 miles, but I decided to call it a day because I didn’t want to deal with the rocks in the dark being as sleep deprived as I was. Kind of a lame excuse and I half wish someone had talked me out of it. At the same time, I was happy to take a nap and then watch the other runners come in and finish.

One by one, we saw the headlamps come down the hill. Brian was the last one 10 minutes past. Several of us hung out and had well deserved adult beverages. Tanya and Jason made an encore appearance fresh from Final Four festivities downtown, and they were trashed. I handed out Hoodies to a few people. On the way home, I got a burrito.

Overall, it was a great run for me. I finished 12 loops for 73 miles, 15k of vertical in 21 hours. I felt good during and pretty good after. There are three things I can possibly attribute to feeling as good as I did:

  1. I started being more consistent about core workouts. I started following the workouts from this book, and I do believe that they are making a difference. I feel like I have noticed it in my general running, it was even more pronounced at the event. Seeing the positive effects makes me want to continue working out.
  2. I was fanatical about taking Endurolytes every hour. I think two pills is the normal dosage, but I took just one each hour. (Two makes me gag.) My hands never swelled up, which I think means something.
  3.  I’ve been doing “speed workouts.” Not really the proper interval type, but just pushing myself to run faster. Running fast is fun, but it takes effort. If I end a run sweating profusely, I know that was a good hard workout.

It was a fun event. I have a hard time at writing about these things, but plan to try to write more often, so that it gets easier. In conclusion, the end.

 

The North Face 100K Thailand

Plan Better Next Time!

 

Was concerned about how to find the pick up point for the shuttle to race venue. Got there two hours early. Eventually saw some other folks that looked like runners, and sure enough they were also wondering where exactly to meet. “Airport Link Makkasan” was all I knew. I just didn’t want to miss the bus because I was waiting in the wrong spot. At the very least, I wouldn’t be the only one to miss the bus. But two girls from the race agency showed up and got everything sorted. Had two steamed buns while waiting. It was like a 3 hour ride to get to the race.

At the race site, picked up race kit. Heard from a few elite athletes as we waited for the mandatory race briefing. Race director said he wanted to keep the race briefing “brief” like 15-20 minutes, but went over an hour… Maybe he was joking?

Hadn’t eaten much that day. Bought a hamburger that definitely could have been cooked longer. Figured there would be more food options around the hotel. Get on the shuttle and get to the hotel. Check in and drop stuff. There are really only two restaurants within walking distance. Both are full. Go back to my room and figure I’ll go back out later. Try again later and those folks are all still there… they’ve been waiting for over an hour. At both restaurants. Talk to some other foreigners who are also looking for food. And then a group of four women. We join forces and try the other large hotel. There is a large family being served. One table of runners, that are still waiting. Owner doesn’t want to or can’t serve us. Go back to the hotel and get a cup of noodles. Pray that breakfast will be good. Otherwise, tomorrow is going to be rough.

Breakfast is at 3, alarm set for 2:30. I assume there will be a bunch of runners wanting food. Nope. There are only a few runners up. And breakfast is not bacon and eggs like I hoped, it’s rice porridge. Which is not bad, but it’s probably not nearly enough calories to make up for yesterday. Eat and get ready for the first shuttle out to the race. I am the only runner on the shuttle. It’s me and three race volunteers. We get to the race about an hour and a half before the start and I am literally the only runner there. Well, someone has to be the first runner!

fullsizeoutput_29fe

We were required to bring 2 litres of water, a cell phone, a whistle, and the laminated map that they gave us. Before entering the start chute, the director checked that we had a cell phone and headlamp and enough water. (Though I’ll see tons of people on the course that sure don’t look like they are carrying 2 liters of water.)  I think because so many of the Thai runners are new to trail running, the race director wanted to make sure no one got lost. The course turned out to be pretty well marked, maybe even over marked with tons of flags, giant turn signs, and lots of course marshalls along the way.

They count down in both Thai and English and we go. We start on a road. Lots of people are amped up and hustling to the front. Rookies!

IMG_1848
“Pretty sure this is the wrong way…”

In less than a mile, we are plowing through a farm field, off course. Not by much, but still. Whoever’s in front isn’t paying attention. I try to be vigilant and watch for flags and not just follow the person in front of me. It happens again 10 minutes later, but this time I’m paying attention. I run down the marked trail and call them over.

fullsizeoutput_29e8

Soon the sun comes up and I ditch my headlamp. I’m remembering to eat and drink take a salt pill every hour. After a few hours, I realize my biggest mistake of the race.

Race instruction said to pack everything you needed for the race. I packed enough calories, but  they were all sugar calories – gels and chews. I neglected any salty items. (I did have Endurolyte salt tabs for electrolyte balance, but it didn’t help with sugar fatigue.)  Leaving the hotel, I grabbed a half eaten bag of chips as an afterthought. Definitely glad I did. Had to ration those few precious crisps and use them as a reward of sorts. 13 hours of eating sugar just doesn’t fly. Luckily I was able to force myself to eat up until about the 11th hour. I started in on a chew, gagged and spit it out. From then on I just ate watermelon and sport drink at the aid stations.

 

The course was pretty tame for the first 20 miles. Running through farmland and dirt roads, not much in the way of scenery or views, and more road running than I cared for. But eventually we get some nice views. And then finally we got some hills. I think they saved all the climbing for the end. There were some truly challenging sections that were jammed with traffic from the shorter races.

I remember looking at the elevation profile and thinking “3000 feet. Oh that’s no big deal.” But I didn’t notice that I was looking at meters, not feet. So there was a lot more climbing than I expected. But it was just enough to still be fun, and not turn into a critical error.

Another mistake was not reading how drop bags worked. Didn’t plan on a drop bag, then waffled at the last minute to leave a bag at the start.  What I thought was the “Drop Bags” was actually “Bag Drop.” I thought it was just a translation issue, but it was in fact a place to leave your bags.

It turns out that we didn’t return to the actual race start. Instead, there was a turn around a quarter mile away. I was looking for my bag, it was nowhere to be found. They asked if I had labeled it for checkpoint 5, and that’s when I realized my mistake. I didn’t feel like making the trek at that point, so I asked if they could send someone to get my bag. Although I was grateful I didn’t have to get my bag myself, I’m pretty sure they sent the slowest person there. I tried to scarf down a plate of fried rice while I waited. As I waited anxiously, I debated just going ahead anyway. But it had all of calories for the second half, it would have been foolish trying to get by on watermelon slices and bananas. And I thought about taking some fried rice with me, but it wasn’t that good. The girl finally arrived and I took off on the second loop.

For the most part, I ran by myself. Chatted with one guy for a few miles, left him at an aid station. He would catch up and pass me. He “still had his hiking legs” and was moving well. Two or three other guys passed me and that was bothering me. I stopped and wanted to lay down, but all the water in my bladder forced me to lie on my side, which was uncomfortable.

Another runner runs up and asks if I’m okay. I half jokingly tell him I want to take a nap, and he says I need to get to the mountain before dark. I’m like dude, I’m almost finished… ? Don’t know what it was, but something clicked and got me motivated. Remember thinking to myself, “You can sit here whining about it, or you can get up and do something about it.”

The one non mistake of the race was that I finally found my working Ipod and was able to enjoy the magic of music. Nothing lets you forget how crummy you feel and how hungry you are than several good songs. So I put on my music and got going. I passed that ‘get to the mountain by nightfall’ guy. And then a few others. Was working in a better mental head space, even if I was still lacking calories. It made me think where does this energy come from, that can change things around just like that?

As much improved as I was feeling, the last 5K was longest 5K ever. Was so ready to be done. Got on the road, and thought, “This is it!” Nope. There was one last hill. Laid down on the ground in the last mile. Looked back, caught sight of the guy behind me. Got up, put in my headphones and found a Rage Against the Machine song and ran. Taking the final turn into the finish, ran really strong and finished in 13:40.

After the finish I was soooo hungry. I got my medal and beelined for the food. The girl put some noodles on my plate and I asked for more. I slathered on some Maggie soy sauce and oh man! Salt! I ate a few bites… and realized it was too soon to eat. Felt dumb that I had asked for more.

I ate what I could and decided to get on the shuttle back to the hotel. I learned my lesson and bought two hamburgers and three beers to go. The first cold beer was fantastic after drinking water and watered down sport drink.

Another mistake: I didn’t pack a post race bag. Luckily, we got a finishers shirt, so I was able to change into a dry shirt, so I didn’t get super cold afterwards.

There were two other 100k runners in the shuttle. One guy finished and the other DNFed. We chatted about the race and running in general. I shaved my head and bought a giant old man hat expecting it to be insanely hot. I learned that this is usually one of the hottest races in Thailand and that the weather this year was a fluke. It turned out to be perfect!  (Lucky me!) Also, some of the elite runners had complained that the race was too easy, so the crazy hill climb section was new for this year. (Lucky me!) And probably most surprising, was that the race was a Western States qualifier! (Lucky me!)

Overall, I’m happy with how things turned out. Would have been nice to run closer to 12 hours, but I’m okay with 13:40. That was good enough for 17th out of over 200.

Cactus Rose 100

This was probably the most uneventful 100 I’ve ever done.

I started out with high hopes for a Sub 24 hour finish. I made an aggressive training schedule that was going great – for two weeks. But I lost my desire to train, I was just tired. And then it was time to taper. The weekend before was a cramfest of sorts at Ragnar. Ragnar was fun, but was not good preparation leading into race week.

Plan was to focus on consistent eating, especially during the second half of the race. Felt like that went pretty well. Sausage wrapped in a tortilla was awesome, wrapped in a pancake with syrup would have been magical. (Have to remember those cheap HEB tortillas are dry and taste terrible.) Had a tuna fish lunch snack, which was okay.  Don’t eat too much of the same thing. Alternate between salty and sweet works well. Make things that can be eaten in four bites or less. I drank a whole beer after finishing a loop.

Drove up on Friday. Was ready for bed right after the Race briefing. Wondered if Whataburger for lunch was enough food, or should I have had dinner as well? It was nice and cool, but thank goodness it wasn’t as cold as the last time I was at Bandera. (Last time, the water in my Hydro Flask froze.)

Note for future races, have an extra alarm clock, don’t rely on just your phone. The cold sapped my phone’s battery and it died at 2:00 am. I heard it and scrambled to figure out how to set the alarm on my garmin. Luckily, I got that done and started recharging my phone. Even before the phone thing, I wasn’t sleeping well. Another thing to work on for the next race, make sure to get plenty of sleep leading up to a race.

4:00 and I’m up and 4:55 at the start and we’re off. There was no build up, it was like, “Hey it’s time to go.” Kind of how the whole race felt.

Following guy dressed as a Wookie. Hear him huffing and puffing a mile in. I watch his feet as he ran along the trail, his ankles twisting and crumpling every so often. Nike Frees?? Definitely the wrong shoe for this course. Notice how he’s right on the heels of the guy in front of him. Later realize it’s because he doesn’t have a headlamp. Ask him where’s his headlamp. He’s a “Rookie,” and he didn’t think about it. This is his first trail race, which I suspect will be a DNF, imagine my surprise when I see him later in the day.

Met Stewart. Saw him sitting at the Equestrian aid station. He looked like a lifelong runner, but also pretty darn sweaty for such fine weather. We were running about the same pace, so I asked which race he was doing so I’d know whether to worry about him or not. Luckily, he was doing the 50. We talked for a few miles, and I left him at an aid station. I finished the second lap and saw him coming in for his finish, was happy to give him a high five.

German was camped a spot over from Julie and Joe. I squeezed in between them. German came over and asked what people were doing for food. We talked and turns out this was only his second ultra. He won his very first – the Habanero 100K. He was a fast roadie converting to trail. He ran the 50 mile and got second place.

Loryn was a surprise. His girlfriend Sam texted me good luck and that Loryn was running the 50 mile. Luckily, I ran into him pretty early on and we ran together for a few miles. He was using the race as a training run for a 24 hour race in December. He was feeling good and moved on ahead. Later, I caught up to him, he was having knee pain. He wasn’t sure whether to struggle through and finish or pull the plug and save it for another day. He ended up hiking it in.

Carlos and his pacer Mario. We ran together for awhile, and then I would try to drop him. But Carlos kept coming back. With his road training background, he is way better on the flats than I am, and would always catch up. At one point, I saw his pacer Mario run way ahead of him, so I yelled, “Hey Mario, don’t forget your runner!” Turns out, Carlos had told him to do that so he would have to chase him. Later, I would use a similar tactic to get motivated. Whenever I would hear or see the two of them, I would run faster. I especially tried to run harder on the flats.

D Carr at the end. At each aid station, we had to write down our name, bib and the time. Saw her time 15 minutes ahead at one aid station and then 5 minutes ahead at the last aid station. I tried to catch her, but couldn’t. She finished 1:26 ahead of me. I know I could have shaved that time off from several stops. Next time!

Two scenic things. Late in the race, it was cold and I was very sleepy tired. There was a ditch/gulley that you had to climb through. I laid down in the ditch. Sheltered somewhat from the cold, I looked up into the night sky. I could see only the walls on either side of me and the stars. I imagined this is what it looked like from a grave, contemplating how nice it would be to be dead (not running).

The other most amazing thing was the glittering of the ice on the grass. It looked like it was shimmering. Almost like a 3-D version of static on your old TV. Very cool effect.

At the end, I was sooooo sleepy. Rich gave me some caffeine pills, Carbo pro I believe (brand name drugs!) and I held off taking any for as long as I could. I finally took one, and….. not much happened. I honestly couldn’t tell. So the last 20 miles was insanely long. You think, “Oh I know where I am. I turn here, and then the aid station.” But then there are all these other minor turns and sections that seemingly go on forever….

Lowest point during the race was when my after only a few minutes, my iPod said low battery. I was really looking forward to hearing some music on the last loop, but it wasn’t that big of a deal. (Although it probably would have helped keep me awake.) Surprised that I didn’t get super emotional and cry at the end.

D Carr had seen me at the aid station and knew I was right behind her. Wish I had pushed harder and made up that minute and a half.  Finished, changed and waited to see Carlos finish. Was very proud and happy for him.

This was by far the most uneventful, almost “routine” 100 miler that I’ve run. Which is sort of a good thing. Definitely want to keep refining the process and get better at it.

 

Capt’n Karls 60K Muleshoe Bend

Seems silly to report on a 60K, but here I am. Four 9 mile loops. Boring and uneventful, this is more to get in the habit of writing a race report.

I have a goal of doing a race every month, and since there aren’t any other races this month, I signed up. Wish I had planned better since the price was an extra $20. I had run parts of the trails on two separate occasions for work a few months back, so I didn’t plan much. I knew it was going to be hot and muggy; I loaded up my big cooler with 3 coconut waters, 2 Arizona tea tall boys, 3 sparkling waters, 2 mama chia drinks, and a big chocolate milk, and a Budweiser tall boy. That was the extent of my planning.

It’s a night race. The day of the race, my schedule seemed like there was plenty of time to get stuff done and then drive two hours to the race. Being on time stresses me out, so next time I’ll get everything done the day before and leave earlier. As much as possible, it’s best to avoid mental stress before a race. Planning and preparation is key.

On the way up, there were ominous looking clouds and a few brief showers. Once again, I hadn’t checked the weather report. I was prepared for heat, but not for rain, and that had me worried. I got there about 1.5 hours before the start. The sky still looked like it might rain, but fortunately, it never did. I managed a 15 min cat nap right before the start.

Start of the race, I chatted with Julie a bit. Once the single track got going, I stayed with the group for a bit, thinking take it easy to start. But after a while, I would just jump past the parade leader. It annoys me that people don’t step aside to let others pass when they have a whole train behind them. I didn’t want someone else determining my pace this early in the race. Eventually the field spread out and I had my space.

Expected the humidity to be an issue, it wasn’t.

Breezed through aid stations without dilly dallying: filled up a bottle, grabbed a few snacks, and took off. Every thirty minutes or so, popped an Endurolyte. Last race I was taking two at a time, and the second one was tough to swallow. They have an unpleasant flavor when you put them in your mouth. But they kept my fingers from swelling like sausages, so I believe they did whatever it is they are supposed to do. (Balance electrolytes levels.)

Watermelon, orange slices and fig newtons were the majority of my fuel. Had various liquids including tailwind. Had a lifesaver candy which was nice for a while, and at the last aid stone on the final loop, has two pieces of gum. That was pretty huge. Kept my mouth from drying out. Funny, I remember how I used to rave about gum, but stopped chewing it. But since I was chewing for less than three miles, my jaws didn’t get tired. So gum may make it into my next race plan.

And the one time I don’t carry spare batteries. I heard a thump behind me. A lady had tripped. I stopped to make sure she was okay. Apparently it was her first night race and her headlamp was super dim. She said it was a piece of crap headlamp, but more likely the batteries just needed to be changed. Normally, I’d have some on me, but this time I didn’t.

I was kind bummed because I was moving well when I heard her fall. I really wanted to keep running, but that’s not cool. Now I was thinking I was going to have to run her into the next aid station. She followed me for a bit, I tried to light the way. But then she took off ahead of me and sped off. That was a relief.

The course at night is like a nightmare. It seems like you’re running in place, nothing seems to change much. Also because the course is so snaky, you’ll see people on an adjacent path and you can’t tell if they are ahead of you or behind you. Super annoying.

Keep thinking about how hard can I push myself? I never push real hard in races because I don’t want to empty the tank. But honestly I don’t know how much my tank holds. I do think that the box step ups I did for a few days helped. Or I want to believe they did. Def need to be doing more of those. Didn’t have any music, that didn’t bother me too much.

First loop went by quickly. Second loop felt good, thought I was probably running a bit too fast. Third loop was okay. Fourth loop wasn’t bad, but there was definitely more walking. Overall, was a decent race. Need to find a why or a goal.

Next race:
weather report / bring everything and prepare for anything.
Endurolyte every 30 min
spare batteries, gum
motivation?
socks: toe socks and darn tough hiking, Altra lone peaks.