Sunday, November 11, 2012

Carkeek 12 wet hours

     There is no glory waiting out there for me. My thoughts as I turned off the alarm at 4 something in the AM on Saturday. I could hear the wind whipping a heavy rain against the windows. Downstairs the coffee maker was percolating as I climbed into my pile of running clothes as quietly as I could. My back froze as I tried to get my Drymax socks on, Damn it! Breathe man breathe. The tweak in my back slowly let go and I continued. No glory out there. The rain erased any thoughts of piecing together a costume.
     Black shadows of human shape gathered around the fire as it bent left then right making a bright spot in an inky ravine. I pinned on my number and tried in vain to identify who I knew under their hooded rain coats. The dark would dissipate and return again in the length of this 12 hour race. Glory be damned, we started running. By the end of the first 1.95 mile lap I was soaked to the marrow. I had gone out fast in an attempt to build some body heat, and now realized I would have to stay fast or slow down and let the cold creep in. I stayed fast, the rain kept pace, the blackness slowly leaked West leaving a beautiful, sodden single track of mud and stairs in its place. I ran.
     The pace was fast. My aid station wagon was stocked with chocolate croissants, muffins, chicken broth, S.caps, Dookie Wads and, like my shoes, 2 gallons of water. Wherein last year I managed to stop every other lap, this year I found excuses to stop almost every lap. The wet was taking its toll on both my time and my nutrition as I was having difficulty trying to keep fed inbetween loops. I started to wane in the rain. My spirits were raised greatly when I found Shawna Tompkins and ran a few loops with her. When she slowed to run with some other friends, I was back to being alone with the trail and the sound of the incessant rain on leaves, which started to drive me nuts. I grabbed my ipod and tried to sedate with podcasts, it didn't work, I was depleted and bonking, I walked the steeps.
     Kevin Douglas was runner up last year and was back for more this year. I was ahead of him. If he passed me I would have an excuse to quit. No glory at Carkeek but still, you can't quit if you are leading. So I didn't. I ran/walked a loop with Matt Hagen, one of my favorite people in the running world, the company was great but my head was spinning. I decided to aim for a 50 mile day(26 loops) and call it good. Sam Thompson who co directs the race with Brock also owns a mobile food truck call Seattle Biscuit Co. Race entry includes one biscuit sandwich from the truck. I ordered on loop 19 for pickup at the end of loop 20. I finished the loop, got my "Che" Biscuit (eggs, ham, pickle and maybe cheese) and sat to eat. Kevin was just leaving as he'd taken off a loop to eat. I ate hearty and it was delicious. Betsy Rodgers who was marking loops on the big board asked if I was done and I said yes to the biscuit and no to ending the race. My buddy Jim Norton had shown up early to run some loops with me. I roused my creaky bones off the wet cement and we headed slowly into the woods. The biscuit kicked in and I started to feel strong again, we ran a good clip over the well trod mud for three loops when I stopped at my car to refuel. Nothing looked good. As a matter of fact it all looked bad, really bad, I ran down an enbankment to a fence and started chundering like a bad prom date. Jim came up behind me and said, "well I guess we're done huh?". I said, "No. Now I feel better and I'm pissed off." A cup of chicken broth later we were back on the trail. I felt like I was starting over anew.
     The clock wended it's way down to a few hours left and on we ran. Jim stuck with me, my lovely wife Jane came and visited inbetween soccer duties and brought crackers and a handheld of hot chocolate (perhaps the best thing ever) I kept at it. Kevin wouldn't quit. I wouldn't quit. Jim wouldn't quit. The loops kept coming, the clock kept running, the night crept in dark and wet until it simply ended. 30 loops. 58ish miles, 13,000ft of climb and descend. I won, Kevin finished a loop behind me, third a loop behind him. Jim stayed with me for 10 loops which was the difference between winning and going crazy from the rain. There is no glory at Carkeek 12 hour but the personal demons I faced this day and my own struggles and perseverence made me really proud of this finish.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Waiting for the Rain

It is fall, things are changing as always, the slant of the sun, the colors, the picture on my Tribute to the Trails Calendar. I'm training for...?... I guess I'm training for the Carkeek Park 12 hour race at the end of October at least that is what my schedule is titled. Last year I ran it and set the course record. This year I will have to better last year's distance. It is something. I'm stir crazy. I haven't had a quad busting,   body depleting, can't get up the stairs race since SanDiego 100 in June. I've had some adventures sure but I'm going out of my mind with the desire to RACE. I also want to race something I care about.
     After my blow up at the TRT attempt I had to come to grips that my spider bite and resulting health downgrade was not something I could push through, rub some dirt on, ignore or rush. I was sooo tempted to hop into Cascade Crest 100 but didn't because I knew I wasn't 100%. I paced Jon Robinson at Wasatch 100 and took in valuable lessons for next year (lottery gods you owe me). I eyeballed The Bear 100 and wished I could have made that happen. Now here I am, stirring. I am ready.
     It looks like I will bide my time until Carkeek. Look out stairs I'm coming for you! I am in Sponsor gathering mode and am trying to put together a marketing myself campaign which is really difficult. I prefer to let my results speak for themselves but I think a little horn tooting may be in order. If anyone knows a business that wants to fly me to UTMB next year I'm all ears... and calves.
     Post script: Write kvetchy blog post on 10/3, find out Baker Lake 50k still has openings, 10/4. Sign up 10/4 for free, taper 10/5, race 10/6. Lead wire to wire, come in first, set Master's CR with a smile and a sunburn.

Monday, August 27, 2012

Tahoe Rim Trail Speed Attempt

What happened? Was a message scrawled across my facebook page. I have been trying to put an answer to the question ever since I dropped out of the group attempt to break Killian Jornet's speed record on the 165 mile Tahoe Rim Trail on August 13th. What happened... I failed, I flamed out, I dropped from the first event ever. I've been compiling a list of reasons which reads like a how to book on DNFs.
     Chapter One: Ignoring illness leads to faster recovery.
     Chapter two: Stress plus Heat plus Travel equals a body fit for the long haul.
     Chapter three: Nutritional plans are optional.
     Chapter four: Best results come from running someone else's pace.
     Chapter five: Running in beautiful places should be hard work.
     Chapter six: Your mind knows more than your body.
     Chapter seven: You suck.
     Chapter eight: People spend most of their time thinking about how much you suck.

     The truth of the matter is I had a great time in Tahoe. The people I met, the support the project had, the pacers, the crew, Gary Gellin's amazing organization, the scenery, everything was beyond what I could have imagined. I had an amazing vacation with my beautiful wife Jane and kids. The problem was taking care of myself. In retrospect, I didn't give myself enough attention to succeed. My first problem was fairly unique in that I was bitten by a poisonous spider before or during the San Diego 100 in June. The bite turned into a systemic bacterial infection which I was able to ignore through a stint pacing the Seattle Rocknroll marathon and for another couple of weeks until I noticed a red line running up my vein from my infected big toe all the way to my swollen lymph node in my groin. The next day I was on antibiotics and two days later was back to 80 plus miles running to make up for lost time. Two weeks after that I ran the WhiteRiver 50 miler and felt good but was still unable to fill my deep energy stores. Two weeks after that I was in Tahoe after a sweltering 18 hour drive from Seattle.
     In Roseburg, Oregon on my drive to Tahoe I stopped at a Panda Express for dinner. It was 90 plus degrees and I needed vegetables. I finished my meal, snapped open my fortune cookie and it read,"You are a leader, not a follower." I blinked five or six times and thought, "Shit, the cookie is right." I mistakenly ignored the cookie. Never ignore the cookie.
     In Tahoe Gary had the entire event dialed in. We stayed at a great rental house, I met Ben Lewis and his wife Bethany and daughter. We had crew and pacers all over the place and a great communal vibe as everyone planned and plotted. I went for a shakeout run as I'd been driving for two days. I decided to go for about 45 minutes. Up from the house to the PCT and back. I went with a hand held bottle and my cell phone, ran for 20 minutes, turned around to go back and the next thing I know I'm trying to read my shoe patterns in the dust as I'm sure I'm not where I'm supposed to be. I got totally turned around. I call Gary and get spotty reception, it is getting to be twilight. I run up a mountain to get my bearings. I top the hill and expect to see a majestic lake but the valley in front of me is only pines. Crap! My East and West are inverted. I backtrack as the crew at the house mounts a rescue party. I come to a junction in the trail and choose the unknown path as I've tried the other two, it leads downhill and that is always good. It becomes a jeep path then a paved road and houses. I'm back in civilization. Ben and Bethany pick me up in the dark 2 hours into my shakeout run. I get back and eat dinner feeling like a tool.
     Sunday I pick up the family in Reno and start to stress about the next morning's 5:30 start. Instead of my usual entire pizza before an Ultra, I get caught up in packing stuff and meetings and end up eating way too little of the community pasta and salad. The next morning I do the same at breakfast and hit the start way underfueled for 165 miles.
     5:30 AM Monday August 13th I start the run with Gary Gellin, Victor Ballesteros, and Ben Lewis. Fresh and excited we head out into the darkness. The sun rises on the TRT and it is breathtakingly beautiful as we fly up the trail at a fast pace. The pace is predetermined by Gary's plan as the pace we need to keep to break Killian's record of 38 hours. It seems harder than I'd imagined. We motor on and the day starts to heat up. Aid stations are set up every 16 miles or so where we have crew and VictoryBags full of our needs. We get to the first crew spot and everyone is there, it's a smile fest with watermelon chomping kids and hugs all around. We head back out and the day heats up fast. The scenery gets better and better as the trail gets harder and hotter. Soon we are all running low on water and beginning to dehydrate and ration. We have two pacers with us for support and to help anyone who falls behind. No one does and we get to aid station 2 at mile 30 or so. By now the group is less talkative and I'm having a struggle. We all load up on maximum water which makes my pack extra heavy. I'm feeling slow and weak. I decide to eat something and the group passes by me. I struggle to eat and keep up with the group. The scenery is painfully pretty with high mountain lakes and granite vistas. A skinny dipper's heaven. We stop momentarily to find our way. I look at a post in the trail and it is warbeling which is a bad sign my mind is going. We head off and I know I'm not right. I keep on and lag to the back of the group with the Brian the second pacer. I walk, then start dry heaving into the bushes. I try to drink water and walk more, that too comes up. I'm hosed. I'm at mile 42 out of 165 and I'm stumbling like a drunk. The group disappears leaving me, Brian and my yodeling behind. I pull myself together a bit, walk, sulk, walk some more. I eventually try more water and a bit more sandwich but still can't muster much of a run. I'm done. I know in my heart I can't go another 123 miles in this condition. We stroll around Echo Lake and eventually arrive at the Echo Chalet parking lot and aid station. I see my wife and burst into tears. I see a chair and take it. Jane says I looked grey/green. I believe her. My kids keep a safe distance as I sit and try to keep both tears and water down. I eventually rebuff the best attempts of pacers and crew to get me to rally and end up curled in a ball on a curb trying to hide. I'm done. I've dropped.
     Two hours post drop I was able to down coconut water. Four hours post bonk I was able to eat pizza at aid station four (mile 65) where Gary came in after the group splintered. Ben dropped there as he hadn't eaten in 3 hours and his achilles was limiting his run. Victor and Gary ran off into the night. Again, the people at the aid station were some of the nicest people I've met. Erik Schranz from Ultra Runner Podcast was decked out and ready to pace Ben through the night and rolled with it when he dropped, Holly, Jim and Steve were driving the crew van and handing out food and smiles. I packed up  the family and went back to the house for a long night's sleep in a soft bed.
     Day two I awoke to find out Gary had pulled up hurt at mile 80 and had to hike 5 hours to get out. That left Victor as the sole survivor. We tracked him on line then went to breakfast and the beach. In the evening we all gathered at Tahoe Meadows (mile 124) and cheered Victor as he arrived with a flower in hand to give to his wife Jenna. Total class act. He donned his night gear and headed off for a second night in the wilderness. Day three we packed up to leave Tahoe and drove to the finish to wait for Victor. 53 hours after starting he appeared and crossed the finish crack to the cheers of his crew. Amazingly enough, he seemed little different than when he started, a lot dirtier, a bit sleepy but still mentally astute, joking, and in great spirits. The overwhelming feeling was of success in that one of the group made it in which validated all the effort of those involved and proved Gary's plan was the right approach. The record may not have been broken but the team effort to get Victor around the lake was incredibly satisfying. My own failures aside I felt part of something bigger, a community of people with a focused goal which morphed as it needed to produce something spectacular.
     Post Tahoe, the family and I road tripped to the coast, up 101 to the Redwoods and Oregon coast and had a great time. I've had a tough go of trying to reconcile what went wrong for me. I've boiled it down to these lessons: 1- Run your own race. 2- Be self focused in preparation. 3- If you have a "drop" plan you will use it. 4- Be patient. 5-Victor Ballesteros is one awesome dude.
     Huge thanks to Gary for inviting me along on this adventure and to everyone who helped make it happen. Yes, there are already rumblings about trying again next year.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

White River 50 mile

This year at White River 50 mile I had a plan. I was going to run, not race the first 35 miles and if I felt good, I'd race the rest. My goal was to run smooth and happy and not burn my legs out before the Tahoe Rim Trail attempt two short weeks hence. I kind of also wanted to crack top 10 and top 3 in the masters division. This was my fourth Whiteriver. It was also my first Ultra back in 2008. I have a lot of history here and I have sponsored the event for the last 5 years though you wouldn't know it by the race shirts this year. Anyhoo, every year I've watched the front pack blast up the first climb, get dehydrated, the true competition keeps the pace, the rest end up in the fetal position on the side of the trail going up the second climb to Sun Top. Dear future competitors, negative split and bring plenty of water. You are welcome.
     I ran the first climb at solid speed but no stress with Shawna Tompkins and Chase Mueller. We chatted and stepped aside as the dehydraters passed us. Shawna dropped back and Chase and I stuck together through the entirety of the climb to Corral Pass then up and over the new reroute. I lost him on the descent much as Ellie Greenwood lost me and disappeared into the woodlands below. I rolled into Buck Creek A.S. feeling downright perky, had some watermelon and proceeded on stopping only for a visit to the loo. Onward to the climb up to Fawn Ridge where I started to find burned out shells of former "runners" along the trail. At Fawn Ridge I asked Laura Houston what position I was in, she looked at her clip board and said, "Uh, I dunno". I saw a lot of names on the list. I decided then and there to start racing. I figured I'd need to pass about 10 people to have a chance of top 10. I hustled out to the trail slurping on delicious watermelon. I passed #1 soon thereafter, then #2, then #3, then #4. #4 stuck to me. Huh? I pushed hard up a hill to shake him, he pushed too. I slowed, he slowed, I bombed a descent, he did too. I had a Clingon. I started to grump a bit until I spied #5 & #6 running together up ahead. Being passed by one person sucks, being passed by two is demoralizing. Clinger and I passed both of them and hit the hot, winding trail up to Sun Top Summit. On our way up, we started to talk, he had an accent which ended up being Swiss, his name was Chris and I started to like having his company. We headed down the fire road and got maybe a mile down before #6 flew past us at break neck speed. Holy Fondu! What can you do, we let him go. Then, half way down we came upon William Emerson and passed him thereby making him my new #6. At the bottom of the road we finally got to the Skookum Flats Aid Station and I saw friends working and I looked for watermelon of which there was none? S**t! I grabbed the best substitute I could find, Mt.Dew and a peanutbutter cookie. I still had legs. I hit the Skookum Trail hard and found and passed the old #6, now #7 early on. I gotta say, if you are feeling good that trail is a blast. If you're not, it's Hell. I rocked and rolled and ran and smiled and felt great about 5 of the 7 miles worth. I passed #8 somewhere in there and finally shot out onto the dusty road to the finish, gave shit eye to the people camping in the usual finish area and sprinted in for a 7:48 finish. 11th overall, 10th male, 3rd Masters. I still felt great.
     White River was a great lesson on patience and priority. I now feel way more confident about my fitness and preparation for the Tahoe Rim Trail Speed Attempt.

Friday, June 15, 2012

San Diego 100 2012

Thursday 6/7/2012 7:00pm, I am in an airplane descending into the city of San Diego. I've come almost the length of the West coast to the end of the U.S. to run a race. I'm escaping an incredibly bad week.
Friday 6/8 12:45, Allen and I set up tents on the side of a dirt road at the Al Bahr shriners camp at 6000 ft in the mountain. The camp is all brown, woodpeckers are everywhere and the pinecones are huge.
Friday 6/8 4:00- Race meeting in the main lodge- RD Scott Mills informs the crowd of 200 runners. I am again awed that so many people can have a singular goal and that goal of running 100 miles is psycho.
Friday 6/8 7:00 - Prerace dinner and hangout with Roch Horton, Luke Nelson, Jeff Browning, Krissy Moehl, then early to bed in the tent.
Sat. 6/9- 7:00 Start line standing next to Jeff, Luke and Tim Long. All look strong, all could contend. The day is bright and warm, we go.
Sat 6/9- 9:15- Jeff has taken the lead, I'm forth in a conga line with Fabrice and Tim, we jump over a snake stretched all the way across the trail.
Sat 6/9- 10:00- I pass Tim and Fabrice at mile 20. I don't see another runner until mile 79, only it is their mile 51 as they are coming as I am going. The wind picks up along the ridges.
Sat 6/9- 11:15- Enter the Nobel Canyon, it's beautiful but hot, downhill, hat dipping in stream crossings, keeping up on salt, water. Pine Creek aid station and someone has a mister on my neck and watermelon in front of me. I see Glenn Tachiyama I'm feeling good.
Sat 6/9- 12:20- Slow ascent on hot road, taking it easy, what happens here affects everything after. Climb to the ridge where the wind helps. Feels like being in front of a blow dryer. Allen walks me out of the aid station, it's good to see someone.
Sat 6/9 4:15, I'm in the middle of nowhere on sandy roads hoof printed from a horse race earlier, I can see forever as the trail bends around grassy hills. I see huge birds, emu? I get closer. Wild Turkey, they look taller than me. 59mile aid station and I'm losing my enthusiasm. They also have a blender, tequila and Margarita mix, after some serious thinking, I leave anyway.
Sat. 6/9 6:00 I find my pathetic drop bag at Paso Picacho aid station, I sit at a picnic bench and have a croissant, some coffee and a pity party. I feel cooked, I want to cry but need the hydration so I don't. I walk out and continue up Stonewall Peak.
Sat. 6/9 7:30- The deer see me, they run straight to where I am running. I see coyotes hiding in the grass, I cross sweetwater creek, hit the aid station, continue. It's cooler now. I'm feeling perky. The bunnies keep hopping out on the trail where earlier it had been lizards. I climb. Out of the sky floats a little yellow balloon, it lands not 10 feet from me as I pass a meadow 76 miles into a 100 mile jaunt. It gets dark.
Sat 6/9 9:00- Finally make mile 80 aid station where I get on my night gear and Allen Skytta joins me to pace me in the final 20 miles. Company is a great thing, even when we aren't talking it's still being part of a shared experience. The miles churn by relentlessly as the trail, with it's loose rocks and poor footing does a number on my feet.
Sun 6/10 12:20- Rat Hole aid station, 4 miles left to go, aid station worker says,"bad news is the guy in front of you has already finished, good news is you are 3 minutes under last years course record." We sprint out. 1/2 mile down the dark single track I spy something in the trail ahead, it's dark and short and running as fast as it's little legs will carry it. It's a skunk! We are trapped running behind it as it won't leave the trail and we sure won't pass it. Eventually the trail spits out onto a dirt road and we sprint by the little guy on his right without getting sprayed. Now we need to make up time and put the hammer down. We fly, we hit the campground  and the finish line in 17:54! Second fastest time on the new course. 2nd place to Jeff Browning and a PR by 1:11.
Sun 6/10 4:00am- After calling home, shivering in the 41 degree night, having my tongue cramp, eating soup. Seeing Tim Long come in third, taking a cold shower, getting on every clean piece of clothing I had left. I finally hit the tent and slept for 3 hours.
Sun 6/10 6:30pm- arrived home to Seattle to the loving arms of my wife and kids.
finish line photo SD100 by Glenn Tachiyama
Friday 6/15- 6:00pm- Finally got around to writing a race report after a week of eating, sleeping, hobble  ing around, healing and feeling pretty darn proud of my race. Scott Mills runs a great race in some beautiful country.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Miwok 100k

A race of firsts: First 100k I've ever run, first race in California and first time I've been poison oaked.
Marin is beautiful in pictures, even more so in person. Trying to take in all that beauty while simultaneously trying to not pass out is a trick I may have mastered last Saturday.
     I came to Miwok 2 weeks after totally wasting my legs at the Yakima 50k. I felt recovered and excited to run my first 100k on this famous course which was rerouted this year to include two extra climbs adding 2-3,000 more feet of elevation and an extra mile or two. The race started at 5:00AM which is brutally early. Allen and I stayed the night at Victor Ballesterros's house in San Rafel which is 45 minutes away so the alarm went off at 3:00AM! We drove to the start at Stinson Beach, parked, I got in line to check in, got my number and pinned it on while walking to the start line. The next thing I know we are running through the dark and up a steep hill like a congo line of fireflies. The pace was way too fast and continued that way for the first 12 miles. The terrain was wind swept hills, cantered with grass covering the trail, very treacherous and at about mile 4 a scrubby tree yanked my ipod wires off and my earbud clip disappeared into the grass. I spent the next 20 mile fighting the knot of wires dangling from my arm as well as the pack of runners ahead of me running at a 50k pace. I fell in with Adam Lint and we chatted a while, saw Victor twice at the Bodega ridge aid station and tried to find a comfortable pace on the 13 mile out and back. We descended back to Stinson where Allen was waiting with a chocolate croissant. I gave him my headlamp and my ipod and took off. He said, "Don't you want your ipod?" I yelled back, "No! I'm mad at it!"
     Out of Stinson the trail heads back up to the ridge as you can see by Glenn Tachiyama's picture here. At this point I could see Jean Pommier ahead of me and set my sights on passing him. The day grew warmer. The trail peaked then descended a long way to a horse trail leading to Muir beach. I snuck up on Jean and when he stopped at a water crossing to wet his hat I passed him feeling smug, then stupid for not stopping myself to cool down my overheated hat. At the Muir beach aid station I caught back up with Adam Lint then passed him on the climb out. I started to feel good. My hydration felt right, I wasn't hungry as I was eating at each stop and I had legs. I continued up and around the Marin headlands passing two more runners, a deer and a turkey. I started to feel the heat and the fatigue at the Southern most aid station which is called Bridgeview as it overlooks the Golden Gate. I ate a little and ran off to a trail which was lined with poison oak. I'd never seen it before but it was unmistakable (shiny, three leafs, oak shaped leaves, evil smirks on it's awful faces). I tried my best to avoid it. But.
I been poisoned 
     The rest of the race was a blur of trying to catch the guy in front of me, seeing really cool birds, climbing intense ridges, and slowly wearing down. With about 20 miles to go the guy in front of me picked up a pacer and I could see them talking and having a ball. I knew I wouldn't catch him. I was in a funk and felt hollow. I hoped to hang on to my spot but saw runners behind me. Crap! I picked up the pace and flew into Muir aid station again. When I hit the horse trail this time I started to freak out. There were patches of light and shadow and each time I hit a light change my eyes would adjust too late and I couldn't see right. I felt like I was going to faint. I wasn't super dehydrated, or hungry, I was simply empty of energy. I kept on, longing for the last climb. When I came to it I was met by Gary Gellin who offered to pace me in the last 5 miles (he had already paced in winner Dave Mackey and had come back out to help me in). I was glad to have company though you wouldn't have know it by my sour attitude at having to walk the uphills while fending off the white light in front of my eyes. We finally topped the climb and started down when from out of no where came Adam Lint! He blazed past us looking fresh. I yelled "good job dude" and I meant it. I wasn't going to catch him but Gary and I tried. I put everything into the final 3 miles to the finish but still came up 1 minute short of 5th place and 2 minutes short of 4th place.
my hosts Victor and Gary
Finish line
     In retrospect, Yakima was special. I'm glad I ran it again. I also feel like I could have put in a better showing at Miwok if I'd have had fresher legs. These are the things we do to test our limits. I was pale faced and blue lipped at the finish until I got a guava juice, v8 and chicken sausage into me. I soaked in the Pacific, watched friends finish, napped a bit then drove away from Stinson beach and Miwok to start the recovery for SanDiego 100. 

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Yakima Skyline Rim 50k's & 80 degrees

 Friday night, after a frantic day of kid shuffling and work I found myself in a van down by the river. The Yakima river that is, trying to figure out what to wear for the morning's 50k. I was sleeping 3,000 feet below the morning's first climb.
     The Yakima Skyline Rim 50k was the first Ultra I had won. 2011 was the first year James Varner and his Rainshadow Running put on the event, so by winning I had set the Course Record at 5:29:34. I really wanted to see if that record would hold or if it was a soft time on a hard course. The allure of returning as champion outweighed my better judgement as I should have been tapering for Miwok 100k in San Francisco two weeks later. Instead I was lacing up the Montrail Rogue Flys to defend my title and waste my quads on the nearly 11,000ft of climbing and descent this bruiser of a course had to offer.
     The day dawned bright and clear. The jacket and gloves never stood a chance. I went with light sleeves, two handhelds and a fannypack of peanut butter crackers. Teammates Allen and Sara were lined up and ready, Joe who got 3rd last year was there as was Matt Hart up from SLC and a bunch of Ultra characters known and unknown. 3,2,1 Get out of here and we looped the lot, crossed the jumping bridge and headed for the first monster climb. I felt good, the day was beautiful and two guys took off hard on the first climb. I was happy to see them try to win it on the first of four major climbs. I hung on in 3-4th, we topped the ridge and I fell in with some super nice guys from Walla Walla and Missoula. The second big climb is where the sun finally set it's teeth. It bit hard as I climbed and by the top and the 10 mile aid station I was feeling pukish and had to walk a bit to settle. I settled on the fact I don't do well with Nuun. I decided to stick with water from there on. I was in 3rd and the guys in front were putting it down, then Oliver the kid from Walla Walla flew past me on the rockiest of downhills and I just watched him go. I felt like I was not taking the bait to chase... yet. the turn around found me 8-10 minutes behind the leader. I loaded up on water and hit climb #3. Now I felt good. I passed Oliver and spent the rest of the climb saying "nice job" and "thanks" to all the runners coming down the trail. I peaked and hit the downhill trying to keep pace with the boys ahead. I came to the only flatish part of the run where it wends it's way through a valley of sagebrush and to my surprise I saw the guys in front of me, then I caught the guys. We hit the last huge climb (3000ft) and they stepped aside for me. I took two steps up the steep and both legs cramped. I couldn't let them see me cramping so I faked it up the steep slope until the cramps subsided, then I pushed really hard to put some distance on them. I figured if I could get 1/2 to 1 mile ahead of them by the peak, they wouldn't catch me on the downhill. I put my head down and just climbed. I was hot, it was dry, it was steep. I climbed more until I saw the final aid station and Brandon Sybrowski there filling my water bottle,
 the dude is a legend and he was asking my name- kind of like having Shane MacGowan buy you a pint. Up the final false summits and finally the turn to drop like an elevator to the valley floor. I bombed as fast as my liquified quads would let me, nearly tripped down the cliff just like last year, thought a stick was a rattlesnake and yelped, almost passed out after tying a shoe and finally saw the bridge, the river, the finishline. I crossed in 1st place with a new CR of 5:19:03! Thankfully Gwen Scott was there to walk me around until I could sit, James gave me a new coffee mug for winning. The next guy came in 19 minutes later at 5:38.
     My conclusions: I love this race, sunburn trumps foam roller, I will recover by Miwok and yes, last years CR must have been soft.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Dizzy Daze 50k

     I felt so good recovering from Chuckanut 50k I decided to sneak into the Dizzy Daze 50k. I've never gone back to back on race weekends but I had 22 miles scheduled and I was planning on running around Seattle's Greenlake pacing Dizzy Dazers anyway so I hit up Matt and Betsy for a bib.
     My main competition was none other than Megan Arbogast , member of the USA 100k team and holder of the Western States 100 women's masters record. I had been beaten the weekend before by Ellie Greenwood of the England 100k team and I really didn't want to be "chicked" two weekends in a row. Even though, if I was, it was by two incredibly fast women so no shame there.
     Race day dawned clear and cold, the antitheses of Chuckanut. The race started at 7:00 and consisted of 10 3.2 mile loops around Greenlake counterclockwise. That's it. I went out fast because I was cold and needed warmth. I stayed fast and on loop 5 Megan caught me and we ran for a while chatting then I pulled ahead. She caught me again at mile 17 or so and I stayed on my pace and pulled away but only because my pace was my pace and I was running my race. My goals were to A- win, B- set a 50k PR and C- Beat Phil Kochik's Course Record of 3:40. My old PR was just under 4 hours so I knew that was beatable. I ran on and the loops passed by as I passed 100kers, dog walkers, running clubbers and many many ducks. I fueled mainly on potato chips, S Caps and 2 Gu Chomps. Laps 8&9 sucked as you might imagine and I'd lost track of Megan but was still running scared that she would waste me in the last 2 miles. Loop 10 was a full out sprint including raspy breathing and a saliva trickle to the finish line. I came in at 3:35:59 achieving all three goals and winning a bottle of wine and a free entry into next year's race.
     Post race I hung out with volunteers and finishers as they came in then decided to "walk" a loop with Allen Skytta who was running the 100k, then ran another loop with him before calling it a day and heading home as the new "King of Seattle Ultras" As I hold CRs in 2 of the 3 Ultras in the Seattle city limits. Allen got 2nd in the 100k by 1 minute. Kevin Douglas shamed us all by running 33 laps of Greenlake for the first known Greenlake 100 mile run.
     Good times had by all. Matt Hagen and Betsy Rogers put on a great race. My gear was perfect for the day. Montrail Rogue Fly shoes and Drymax socks. My 4th 50K of the year and I still own 10 toe nails!

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Chuckanut 2012 or how to get 29th gracefully

I've been trying my darndest to put Chuckanut 2012 into perspective. I ran strong, I felt good, I P.R.ed the course in snow and mud, I sucked, I finished 29th (my 2nd worse finish, 1st worse being Whiteriver 50 miler 2008 where I finished 32nd but it was my FIRST ULTRA!) I beat a lot of really strong runners, I wasn't sore enough the day after, I didn't cramp or bonk, I could have run faster, I got 5th masters, I should have only carried one bottle, I think too much.
     The reality of the 20th anniversary running of Chuckanut 50k is this: The field may have been the deepest, most talented group of runners to ever toe the line at an Ultra event in the USA. There were 30 people running with sub 2:30 marathon times, some sub 2:20. I lined up at the start about 50th so I wouldn't get trampled. All things considered, I suppose 29th was pretty durn good.
     I hoped for crap conditions because I figured it might slow down the marathoners and warm weatherites. My dreams came true in spades as the early morning downpour turned to slush for the start. I was vomited out of the start chute onto the interurban trail from hell and as I watched the race disappear ahead of me I was happy to fall in with Joe Creighton and his rugby ear protection headpiece. The miles of horrible flat gravel clipped away and Bill Huggins joined us to gloat about having a full head of hair and to get into a Glenn Tachiyama picture with people as short as himself. Finally the hills came and I felt better, started passing people and felt strong as the slush turned to snow. Fragrance Lake was beautiful but I saw it for about .23 of a second as the trail was super dicey and slippery. I got passed... what? Yeah, some dude in a yellow singlet passed me on singletrack, I took note and slipped it in my shorts next to my bag of peanut butter crackers. I was looking forward to Aid #2 where Team Rain City Ultra Runners aka Team FleetFeet Seattle was manning the tent. I passed a gimpy Jen Shelton and a few more than broke into the aid station and it was a sea of St. Patrick's green and Leprechans and mustaches and it freaked me out and I couldn't really look at anyone because my eyes were used to staring at the rocky, rooty, snowy trail. Sara Malcolm passed me my magic croissant and I bolted just as Allen Skytta was driving in. It took me roughly 3 miles of uphill Cleator Rd. to choke down my chocolate croissant while passing many early speedsters. I skirted aid #3 and passed Jean Pommier in the process and hit the ridge trail. The ridge was like dancing with a professional ballroom dancer, lots of footwork and very scary. I made it through unscathed but just barely. The next part of the trail is usually a bit muddy. This day it was more puddingy. Unavoidable soup. I praised my drymax socks over and over as my feet felt comfortable even though I was clomping through snow covered mud. The trail rose to another extended climb and I saw a yellow singlet in front of me. Ha! So we meet again. I reeled him in and passed him. Downhill bomb to Daniel Probst's aid station #4 with doughnut holes and Bushmills, I grabbed 4 holes, threw them down the hatch and headed up Chinscraper. I felt fine going up the beast and passed about 4-5 sufferers on the way up. Crossing the parking lot at the top there was easily 7 inches of snow. Downhill road run from there back to the Interurban was super soft underfoot and really easy to run. Saw Betsy Rogers and Matt Hagen on their way up Cleater as I was going down. Passed the last aid station then I was all alone on the 7 mile gravel grovel. I pulled out my Ipod and fumbled about until I filled my ears with The Supersuckers and punk rocked my way down the path. As if the return trip wasn't bad enough, I had two stops to retie loose shoe laces, two! I pushed to the finish 'cause I eats my spinach and came in at 4:17:30 for 29th place, 5th masters and a Chuckanut p.r. of 24 seconds over my 2010 time where 4:17:54 was good enough for 12th overall and 1st masters.
     Post race festivities were a whirlwind of recovery soup, Krissy congratulations, chatting with C.R. holder Ellie Greenwood, rubbing elbows with the best Ultra runners in the country, seeing local friends, drinking cocoa, packing my jacket with Udo's Oil samples, peeling mud from my lower extremities, and finally getting a ride home with Allen and some dude named Uli who won the St. Paddy's Day Dash and pocketed more money in his 3.5 mile race than he would have if he'd won this prestigious race.
     I suppose 29th isn't so bad, could have been worse, could have come in 30th.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Learning lessons on Orcas

Orcas 50k 2/4/12. This race is an early season classic held on one of the most scenic islands in the country. My vow was to run it this year without bonking. Friday night found me hunkered down in my van nursing a sore throat thinking, "It'll be better in the morning". It wasn't. I had some breakfast and decided I could run the sickness off. (It's worked before). The day was shaping up to be beautiful and I clustered at the start with a ton of friends and a sea of Fleet Feet green shirts listening to James Varner give his course briefing. Then we were off. Two young kids took off super fast followed by the lead pack of about 15. Fast. I fell in with Jon Robinson as usual and we worked our way around and up Mt. Pickett. I felt lousy. The pace was too fast, I wasn't having fun and I didn't want to continue. I got it in my head to drop when the course got back to the camp at aid station #1. I kvetched to Jon my intentions and he said, "Stick with it, you'll feel better." I slowed as we hit the station. Luke, Sara Malcolm's husband was working the aid station AND was holding my van keys for me. I told him I was thinking of dropping. He looked at me like he didn't believe me and suggested I eat something and get back out there. The lawn and everything around the camp was covered in a sheet of frozen dew and looked cold, really cold. The prospect of being cold and sick sounded worse than continuing. I ate some and decided I could always drop at the top of Mt. Constitution where it was bound to be sunny and have views forever. I left aid #1 with the decision my race was over and I'd run for fun, a regular Saturday long run but on an awesome course. I ran, I relaxed, I passed a bunch of early starters. I was having fun now. I passed a few regular starters. I passed the lady with two right shoes? I topped the powerline climb and saw green. Jon Robinson was at the top. I eventually fell in behind him and we chatted awhile until we caught up with Fleet Feeter Bill Huggins. The three of us hit Aid#2 which had food this year! I downed a cup of ramen and felt like Popeye with spinach. Then we three went straight up Mt. Constitution looking like a caterpillar as we were dressed alike and roughly the same size and speed. By the top I had a slight lead on the others. As I headed down from Aid#3 on top of the mountain, Jon blasted past me. Look out! He was gone. Wow. I powered on. A few miles later I caught him and he admitted he had made a move too early. Passing Jon put me in 6th place and I was racing again. I passed the place where last year I had been forced to do the bonk walk and headed to the climb where two years ago I had stopped to eat a sandwich while bonking to a standstill. I was feeling strong. I saw red. Jeff Browning's red shorts were above me on the last climb and he was in them. I got a burst of energy knowing I was catching him and figured I could get him on the climb but he might get me back on the descent. I went for it and caught him with a ,"Hey dude." as I passed. He responded with ,"You're rockin' it!" He kept on my heels for a while then fell off as I gave it my all to get some distance. Then the downhills came and I ran like crap. My feet were still messed up from the Western Wa. Fat Ass 50k so my toes were banging and my heels were hurting and I was running too scared to look back. Finally the trail spit out at the never ending lake loop. I knew no one was going to catch me on the flats as I felt solid. I put it all out and the course ended earlier than expected so I was able to sprint it in and finished in 4:52:11 a PR of 9 minutes at Orcas. I got 5th place and first master's. Jeff came in three minutes later followed by Jon then Bill in ninth. The day was a success in teaching me AGAIN to run my own race, run relaxed, have fun, be strong and allow everything to work out. Trying too hard wastes energy. Chuckanut is next and a perfect place to put these lessons to good use.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

2011 recap.

     It is almost the end of January and I haven't written a lick over the holidays. I had a plan to take December off and rest my body. I would run for sanity and to keep a base level of fitness. I had been expecting typical Seattle rain and dreary, dark days filled with gloom and coffee and excuses to NOT run. What I got was amazing weather and way too many miles in. I logged about 230 miles in December because I kept looking outside and thinking, "I better get this run in now before the weather turns to shit." So I would run and the weather never turned to shit. Thus, 230 miles and my base not only stayed firm, I believe it grew stronger. Even the holidays weren't stressful so my diet stayed solid and I had no need to do some crazy run off a cliff to counteract everyone else's crazy.
     As I try to write this recap of events, I'm being distracted mightily by a purring, silver, ball of kitten shaped fluff. Mr. Moto and his sister Moxie came to stay right before Christmas and having kittens in the house has raised our family fun quotient to new levels. No ping pong ball, noodle, or sleeping toe is safe.
     I've come to the conclusion, I'm good at running but not at lotteries. 2nd year in a row I've been shut out at both Hardrock 100 and Westernstates 100. As my competitive biological clock is ticking past year 44, I'm starting to get a bit frusterated I'm not getting the chance to compete in these big races. I'm still waiting for the lottery for Wasatch but not holding out too much hope. On the plus side, my year is starting to shape up like this:
January- Western Washington Fat Ass 50k- (First to finish in 5:03)
February 5th- Orcas 50k (I will not bonk this year)
March 17th- Chuckanut 50k (hate the race, love the event)
April 21- Yakima Rim 50k (must defend title)
May 5- Miwok 100k (my Ultrasignup % needs lowering)
June 9- San Diego 100 mile (focus race my Ultrasignup % needs raising)
July- Probably Whiteriver 50mile (still sponsored by Globespun Gourmet-Eat n Run, no, Run then Eat)
August- Cascade Crest 100mile? Tahoe Rim Assault 165 miler? Depends on Wasatch lottery.
September- Wasatch? (please) Bear? Run Rabbit Run?
October- Would I be dumb enough to do Carkeek 12 hour again? (Probably)
November- Prolly pace Seattle Marathon again 'cause I loves me some Gatoraid (not).
December- Take month off to recover (as if)
There it is, my definitive schedule for 2012!
     In other news, I had a knee which would not bend when asked, even nicely. The bending part or lack thereof was rather painful and, being both lazybusy and a great ignorer of pain I decided to just run on it and see what happened. It didn't get better. Eventually I had to consult an expert. My options were A. My DOCTOR who would have taken x rays (inconclusive) then a MRI (very expensive) and wanted to scope the thing to clean up the damage then sign me up for PT and recovery into April. or B. Consult Jane Hewey Reiki Master. I chose plan B because she looks better in a skirt than Dr. Mark Wagner. Anyhoo, she worked on my knee, she held it, she went in energetically and reminded my knee what it's true energy path is and reminded me to let go of holding pain there and allow the flow of movement to be unimpeded and healing to begin. Then it did. Within a week I was able to bend, to put on a shoe without pause, to get out of the car without the grimace. It works. Even if she wasn't my wife I would be writing this praise of Reiki as the way to health. I've been exposed to it too many times to ignore. I've seen too many people labeled and prescribed and sent on their way to repeat the cause of their infliction while the energy worker gives you the tools to cure yourself. I'm (obviously) a believer and my bendy knee can attest to it.
     Next week Team Fleet Feet gets it's first shipment of Montrail Shoes to wear with their Drymax socks. I am as excited as a little school girl. I hope to wear my Rogue Racers for Orcas (I will not bonk). Secret tip: Instead of GU, I've been using a baggie of Trader Joe's peanutbutter mini crackers. No sugar high, no sugar crash low, just a steady stream of carbs and protein making energy. Shhh don't tell anyone, let them continue to eat Gels and wonder why their stomaches turn on them.
     Final number on 2011:
Miles run- 3458 average 9.5/day 66.5/week
Races run- 11 (5 50ks, 2 50mile, 1 12hour, 2 100mil, 1 lil' marathon)
Race miles run- 541
Race hours run- 94
Wins- 2 (Yakima 50k, Carkeek 12 hour)