Category Archives: Race

Corner Canyon 50K

Spent too much time browsing potential races on Ultrasignup. Definitely hooked on the rush of signing up for another race. It’s great to have a race to look forward to, but my wallet hates it. I had seen the race, but anticipated being in Moab to volunteer for the Moab 240. However since I did R2R2R and spent way too much there, I couldn’t afford the time off to volunteer for four days like I had planned. I was scheduled to work the day of the Corner Canyon race, but not until 2:30… I could do this. So I signed up.

A newish race about 7 years old. It’s a charity race raising money for people with major medical issues. I figured it must be easier so that more people can run it. Nope. It was a genuinely challenging course. There was plenty of easy flat runnable sections with crazy steep climbing sections mixed in. There were a few out and backs, but too much repetition. There were some nice views throughout the race.

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Temps were pretty dang good. The start was a bit cold, but not too cold. The start was the usual mix of excitement and mild dread about the many hours ahead. My goal for the race was to push myself harder than usual. That meant less walking and running at a faster pace. I wanted to see if I could actually finish in Ultrasignup’s predicted time of 6:51. Since I didn’t know anyone running, I could just chug along without much distraction.

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Running hard has become a foreign concept to me. My usual mentality is to run slow so that I don’t get my heart rate too high and then get tired. It was hard to break out of my comfort zone and force myself to work harder, but I did. Just not smartly.

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I ran hard straight out the gate. I felt great for the first few hours, but then unsurprisingly, began to fade around mile 23 -24. And then there were some major hills to contend with. Normally, I love crazy steep hills. But being calorie deprived made it really tough. I was plodding along step by step. I chose not to use poles, and even though it was tough, I still think it was the right choice.

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There was a “short” out and back section where we had to run to the turnaround point and mark our bib with the Sharpie there. From where I stood when the volunteer directed me, it looked to be just an extra hill. He informed me that it was past that. He told me a distance which I heard as .3 or three tenths of a mile.

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So I run up to this hill, and then down the backside. I’m following the guy in front of me and he’s going up another hill. Get up over to that one, and I can see more runners… and more hills. This is the longest .3 miles of my life!

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I tried to disassociate myself from my current struggle by pretending I was FutureSelf. Futureself had the pleasure of being finished with the struggle and looking back to tell PastSelf that it would soon be over. This is a newish strategy for me, and I imagine I’ll have to rely on it heavily during the Franklins.

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Finally I make it to the turnaround spot and grabbed the maroon Sharpie to mark my bib. I contemplated writing “Bitches I made it!” but settled for something less offensive.

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The return trip was quicker, but not by much. Everyone coming the opposite direction looked strong. Even though they were behind me, I knew I was going to get passed.

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I questioned the volunteer about the distance because it seemed further than it should have been. He said it was “three quarters of a mile.” (And that might have been each way.) I guess the “point three” that I thought I heard was wishful thinking.

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Here a couple guys I had been leapfrogging finally left me in the dust. I was really hoping I could catch them at the end, but no luck. I wonder if they thought to themselves “oh that guy’s going out too fast. I’ll catch him later.” I hate being that guy.

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At the next two aid stations, I forced myself to eat more. While standing there nibbling on whatever, I stared at the table in a daze, wondering what else I could tolerate. Two women passed me during my calorie contemplation.

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Eating perked me up energy wise and started moving better. Finally my mental game picked up, which was great because from the last aid station, it was only three more miles. PresentMe took over and pushed hard for the finish. I didn’t catch those guys, which was a little disappointing, but NBD.

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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.

 

 

 

 

 

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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!

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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!

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“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.

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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.

 

 

 

 

 

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.

IMG_20170618_171518

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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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