Thursday, July 31, 2014

Mondo Slam fizzles and is snuffed out.

     What was I thinking? Nick Clark? Jared Campbell? Superman? Apparently I am none of the above.
I really thought I could do it. 12 days to recover from Western States 100 and run Hardrock. I never would have started if I didn't think it possible. I never should have started.
     I felt damn frisky at the check in. I felt damn nervous at 5:45 Am as the Superstars of Ultra Running gathered at the rock for the start. I felt old and rusty as we headed out of Silverton on a 100 mile circle through the San Juans. I felt slow and empty on the first climb up Putnam Basin. I felt like a corpse when I pulled the plug at mile 42 in Ouray.
     It was like having an Earthshaking hangover at your birthday party.
     It was so magical, the course is like running through a Visit Colorado brochure. The mountains and views alone can carry you to... mile 42.
     O.K. I sucked. It sucked. I had a terrible time. I started off with such great hope and then got passed by the entire first half of the field. I had nothing. My legs were empty and useless except for their amusing "noodle dance" which they were quite proud of. I knew I was toast with Marmalade when I got to Kroger's Canteen at mile 30idontcare and realized if I had to backtrack to Silverton I'd end up in Telluride passed out on the mat at a hot yoga studio. Speaking of Telluride, I've never been so wet as I was after the storm that washed me down into Telluride and I've snorkeled plenty. The sky was actually projectile vomiting, violently on the runners. This is what a mobile puddle looks like.
drowned rat

     After spending a good 15 minutes under the hand drier in the crapper at Telluride Aid Station, I then proceed up the valley to be passed by everyone from the front mid pack, to the mid pack, to the juggaloes, to the jogglers, to a pirate with a peg leg, to eventually a three toed sloth and a star fish. I didn't care. I was done. My Goose was al dente and I decided to walk every step of the "awesome downhill" from Kroger's to Governor's aid station and then enjoy the sunset traipse down the 7 miles of Camp Bird road to Ouray where I could die in peace. I got passed more by friends old and new. I finally fell in with Garret Grobbens who was too nice to let go. I decided to run/ walk with him to Ouray. He had no idea I was dropping and I didn't want to bring him down by telling him. We hit town and I saw my wife, kids and best friend and I fell apart. My legs wouldn't go. The go juice was all dried up and they only had enough gumption left in them to get in a truck to Silverton. I felt bad, real bad. Then the sky lit up and Hell rained down from above and I felt a lot better about my choice. I showered and snuggled into a warm bed with my gorgeous wife and slept great. The next day was spent watching the runners come in to the finish is all states of disarray. Julien Chorier looked like me last year (Horrible). Adam Campbell was struck by lightning, Kuboraki was hit by rockfall in the face. The stories were epic and I felt the conflict of missing the adventure mixed with relief of not having to endure what those runners endured. Hardrock is a race unlike any other.
     The ghosts of what went wrong in Silverton still haunt me but I still have UTMB to look forward to. Life has been a series of downs and downs since returning from Colorado. Sometimes things suck and what can you do but motor on. It could be worse, I could be hunkered down under a rock on Handies Peak waiting for the lightning to abate. I had to give up the Mondo Slam but I'm still alive and kicking and learning French. 

Sunday, July 6, 2014

Mondo Slam Part One Western States

     Well that was interesting. As I recover in Denver, shedding a toenail or two daily, I finally have time to reflect on what I've gotten myself into. The Mondo Slam got off to a slightly disappointing start.
     I had high aspirations coming into Western States 100. Of the last three races I'd run all were faster than any year before. I felt like I was as trained as could be for my A race and was hoping for a finish time between 16:30 and 17:30. I was hydrated, rested, ready and well supported by family and my amazing crew of Phil from 7 Hills, Jonathon Bernard and Glenn Tachiyama. Everything was lined up for a great race.
     We hit Squaw on Thursday, the altitude is always an annoying factor as I think it shouldn't bother me but it does. The atmosphere was really fun. I like the hype, the history and the pageantry of the oldest 100 miler. It was really fun to hob knob with the elites and meet new people. I finally met Nikki Kimball who is a family friend to my siblings in Montana. Talk about inspiring.
     Race day dawned early and cool. Got to the start around 4 AM, checked in, drank coffee and waited. Gordy said a few words then the gun rang out across the valley and we were off up the Escarpment. Beautiful. So beautiful I was fighting the urge to stop and watch the sun rise over Lake Tahoe. I kept going and fell in with the top women, meeting and chatting with Larissa who took second and Kaci who ended up sixth. A lot of back and forth later, I was matched up with Jason Leaman and Pam Smith (last year's champion). I saw crew at mile 20 something. The day heated up. My plan was to not allow myself to overheat. Wasatch last fall taught me a valuable lesson. I wore a visor, a waist pack, a bandana full of ice on my head and stayed wet by dipping in every stream, puddle and aid station.
     My race progressed nicely. I was in the top 40 where I wanted to be. My plan was to be efficient until mile 70 then race the last 30 and pick off the carnage.
     Memo to myself: Pack a lot of Avocados in my drop bags 'cause that shit rocks!
     The day got hot. Average heat for W.S. but hot for a PNW runner. Still I didn't lose my composure or my stomach even though I was on the line a few times. I picked up Jonathan as a pacer at Forrest Hill and the company was great. We picked up the pace and were really clipping along but there was nobody to pass.
     My Achilles heel is digestion. I stop at an aid station, get food, eat it while walking and then have to walk until it goes down, which is the preferable direction. This slows me down. Something Jason Leaman and AJW may have noticed as they passed me walking out of aid stations. Thankfully, AJW would stop to puke and we would pass him until the next aid station. Rinse, puke, repeat.
     Jane, my amazing wife posted a Facebook picture of our daughter sitting barefoot on a fence on an island with her friends. She said, "Do you have your bliss on?" This became my mantra for the race. When I would start to suffer I would ask myself if I had my bliss on. I did. I was running around in the mountains of California having a blast with friends. We finally made it to the river crossing, the iconic, seen it in pictures, river crossing. It was so freaking cool. My favorite part of the course for sure. I wanted to do it twice but Phil was waiting to take over pacing duties on the far side.
     By now I knew my race time was way behind where I wanted it to be. So it goes. I was still running good and within my self. I was pushing it but not dangerously. The hills on the last 20 miles are nasty. My feet were falling apart, my legs were getting stringy. The time between aid stations got longer and longer. Phil's enthusiasm was uplifting. By the time we made it to No Hands Bridge I decided it was time to leave it all on the course. We ran the uphills until they turned to steps. We pushed hard and looked for the lights of Auburn. We got to the road leading to the stadium and I again was taken by how many great ultra runners had run this very road. Jonathon joined us and we three ran to the stadium. Surreal. I finished in 19:28 for 32nd place. I couldn't have run any faster.
     Post race they ask for a blood sample to study. I gave. When my results came back it said I had elevated BUN and Creotin and something else which indicates kidney danger. Pretty much it said if I wasn't peeing regularly a trip to the ER was due. I was peeing great so it wasn't an issue. The results told me I was running within my limits. I pushed it but not to the danger level. I think if I was 10 years younger I would have been in the ER. Instead I ended up in the Super 8 in Auburn with a pizza and an IPA (Thanks JB).
     I will always cherish my Western States experience. I probably will never run it again as it is a course which really doesn't fit my strengths. I will definitely come back to pace someone. Phil?
     From California, to Seattle for 2 days, to Denver to rest and recover and on to Silverton for Mondo Slam part 2. I've lost most of my toenails and my legs are still really sore but, hey, I've still got another 6 days until Hardrock starts.