Sunday, October 25, 2009

Hundred (+3) in the Hood: Part 5

Sorry for the delay, been going through some post traumatic race depression issues in the past two weeks and haven't been motivated to do anything, let alone blog.

Anyways, after finally having worked my way through 4 packets of prunes, I felt much better (and lighter) but was now short one race chart. Fortunately I was just running my way back to the finish line and I knew I only had one aid station left, Red Wolf Pass before the long downhill home. Getting to Red Wolf proved to be a huge challenge as I was fighting exhaustion and hallucinations all the way up the PCT. The hallucinations were just freaky: leaves became faces, boulders became Samsonite suitcases, trees became race marshals and adding to this I was starting to get tired from lack of caffeine. I think I traded places with Kate, Mcmuff and Thumper at least 4 times as I would go out for a quick 8 minute burst, but slow down and have one of them (with their respective pacer) catch and pass me again. Finally as I sat down on one of the less jagged rocks, I think Kate had caught up to me and said in what I perceived to be a sympathetic tone, "Do you need a hug?" and as I was left sitting there, it was like something in my mind just snapped. I slapped myself in the face twice and that woke me up. I ran the last 3/4 mile up to Red Wolf (Mi 96.9) and saw Kate getting food, Thumper was just leaving and McMuff was only 2 minutes behind me. I got both bottles filled up and grabbed a Hammer gel for the last six miles, I left at 26:55. I soon caught up to Thumper and then Mark. I asked about Nic and he said that Nic was spending a little more time at Warm Springs. For some reason, I had a lot of energy and it wasn't the gel because I never touched it, but I wanted to finish strong so I just took off.

That downhill stretch was a blast! My mind flashed back to Mountain Highway Madness where I ran the 4.5 mile downhill in 35 minutes. While the PCT wasn't as steep, it was continuous. I'm fairly sure that if I tripped on any section, that would've been the end of my race, but the trail gods were with me that morning. And what a cold morning it was! I think I was running way too hard just to get my body temperature up, maybe I should have kept the jacket on, oh well. Two more road kills later, I finally cross the fire road with more downhill and catch Perry for the last time. He graciously steps off trail and gives me a round of applause. I finally hit the "flat" section and I'm using all the momentum to maintain my speed. I hear some coughing ahead of me and I bag another kill, I keep running and running and finally see Gilles who's walking. Gilles has gotten completely frustrated with the course markings (or lack thereof), the guesstimation of the distances between aid stations and is in a fairly bad mood. We walk for a little bit, until I can feel his mood getting contagious and I decide to run ahead. I spot the newly laid flour arrows (on-on?) and yell back to Gilles that we're on trail. A turn left and then I start climbing for a few minutes before reaching the peak, then some rolling singletrack and back onto Miller's trail. I bag my last kill just before I make it back to the road. Apparently the guy had tripped and landed on his face, dusted himself off and kept on going. That's ultra.

With a whoop I run to the finish line and momentarily hesitate as I see my car on the right side, but decide to just power sprint to the left and cross the finish line in 27:46:52! Goddamn! I ran the last six (or seven, no one's really sure) miles in under 52 minutes! I also bagged ten road kills. Everyone's huddled in warm blankets surrounding two fire pits. Olga congratulates me and gives me a finisher's cap with a light in it. That's peachy keen. She later gives me a bottle of Hammer electrotabs and some dirty girl gaiters so not too bad (although I still have not gotten my Hundred in the Hood souvenir shirt back. Paul, if you're reading this, please give it back, I'll take it unwashed!)

Compared to how I felt exact two months before at PCT50 mile, the post race feeling was indescribable. I wasn't overheated, nauseated, pukey, or even defeated. The adrenaline of my run was pumping at an all time high, with my time in the Hood, I ran 1 hour and 43 minutes faster than Stormy and I ran without crew and the Hood was 3 miles longer! I downed a fresh can of coconut water to get some much needed electrolytes and was encouraged to get warm quick. I remember my drop bag had some dry clothing for just such a situation. I was under a blanket and in front of some flames quickly. Told Lucinda that Gilles was just behind me and sure enough, he finished ten minutes later. I saw Anil and congratulated him, before he told me he had dropped at Warm Springs, as did Russ. I wasn't really tired, but I was starting to get hungry. Fortunately there was about twenty pounds of roast/pulled pork on the BBQ grill and I loaded up a big bowl and chowed down. I may have scared a few ladies with my eating habits. Sorry. More runners began trickling in. I decided to clean myself up a bit before settling in for a snooze. Lucinda and Gilles left and I said my goodbyes, I never saw Karl, but Kirsten and Chad did make a post race appearance. I saw their nifty buckles and was jealous but resolved to come back next year to get a buckle as well. Fairly uneventful drive home, although I did stop twice: a seven hour rest stop in Oregon and a two hour stop at the Tulalip Casino in Washington where I won $85 playing the slots. A rewarding weekend in the States in more ways than one.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Cursing in the 'Hood: Part 4

There was still a little daylight left so I didnt bother turning on the headlamp quite yet. Nic had gone ahead of me but was walking when I caught up to him. The trail switched from smooth singletrack to rocky (and I do mean rocky) terrain after about 1/2 mile. Saw a few more front runners including Chad and Kirsten coming back from Breitenbush, they looked focused but still was present enough to say Hi to me. I was having not the best time going up this part and me and Nic shared a laugh about this. I wasnt really pushing it, but I feel this is the part of the race website where it let the runners down. I know we're still on the PCT, but there was no course description at least warning what runners would have to go through, and given the fact that we were now running at night with no glowsticks, markings, flagging made it an overall frustrating experience. A bunch of the guys in front of me took a moment to appreciate the view of Mt Hood and the surrounding peaks, I gave it two seconds. It was now me, Nic and Mark running in a little conga line. I took a potty break and both Nic and Mark scooted ahead of me, when I caught up I was at a fork, Mark was standing around and Nic was on the right. Mark asked if Nic was on trail and Nic soon confirmed. We started running a little quicker as it started to cool off and then I turned on my headlamp at 8:30pm. Nic and Mark got ahead of me here and I was by myself again. I didn't really know where the trail was, I just ran towards oncoming headlamps and flashlights. Soon I was coming to a long uphill and I bumped into Karl. He said it was about an hour away and I was worried, if it was an hour downhill, it would be longer uphill. He assured me the trail was rolling and Gilles was only 10 minutes ahead of me. I was walking up and then I met a trio of runners including John who described the trail as more climbing, some flat and a wicked downhill. I finally reached the flat section and did some easy jogging to unkink my quads and then the trail turned back to rocks briefly. I was passed by a few people here. Shawn had passed earlier and now Tony had caught up and passed me, telling me to hang in there. It was really exposed and windy before I made it to the downhill switchbacks. Kate has caught me now in a dazzling "V" LED vest and I finally spot the first glowstick. I do some more running and note that my headlamp is not doing a great job. I hear more voices and I know I'm getting closer, Tony and Shawn are now returning from Breitenbush, followed quickly by Gilles. Gilles and I exchange pleasantries and I turn the corner to Breitenbush A/S (Mile 65).

Wow. There is a lot of collective misery here. All the vollies are standing and all the racers are sitting down. I retrieve my drop bag and spot McMuff off to my right. Where's Thumper, I asked. Right here, she said, huddled under a blanket and grabbing her pacer for warmth. I finish off my last thermos of ice cold chicken noodle mush, a bottle of G2, some coconut water, and more ramen. And this is where I make a tactical error. I decided to go with one handheld bottle and opted for my flashlight which is way brighter than my headlamp. I figured I drank a lot already and I had enough calories to get back to Ollalie, but I took the wrong handheld. The handheld I took had nothing in the pouch, the handheld I left behind had all my saltstick caps, ibuprofen and most importantly, caffeine pills. I really missed those. Of course, I didnt realize this until I was going up the third switchback,by that time it was too late and then my tummy starting going south. I grabbed my secret weapon: A Payday bar, two chews later and everything was fine again. I caught up to Nic and Mark and we updated each other on our progress. Nic was good enough to stop and pull out an ibuprofen for me and this worked out great. I felt really good and ran some more downhill but lack of caffeine was starting to get to me again and my pace slowed down. In fact I was walking and was waiting for a GU to take effect when I was caught by 7 runners (three of them had pacers) which included Anil, Thumper, McMuff, Glen, and Kate. My pride took a little bit of a hit here and after I picked myself up, I chased after them. That sudden kick of caffeinated gel really helped too as I overtook many of those same runners and then there was one left who I initially thought was McMuff but turned out to be Anil who was just rocking the downhill. All the while I'm chasing a flashlight and I am moving well. I didnt like running to Breitenbush, but I sure loved running away from it. Finally I hit the base of the hill and there's Anil who's lost the trail and is wandering aimlessly to the left when I remembered we have to go right. Anil gets ahead of me again and the chase is on. We do a little climbing and then some rocky descent but my flashlight's working great here. All too soon I can see the glowsticks and some very familiar and welcome guitar playing. I make it back to Ollalie lake aid station in just over 5 hours. Three hours there,two hours back. I get some more food and soup, I beg for an ibuprofen for just in case and soon notice that Thumper and McMuff have arrived. It's getting cold and I need to warm up quickly. I ask Show N Tell to play the Harriettes a slow song and I get the hell outta there. I do some climbing and once the downhill starts, I go. I pass a few runners here and then I catch a slow moving duo: Russ and Gary. They move aside and I run past encouraged by their words. But I have to pull off to the side of the trail for a long overdue pee break. It's so long in fact that Russ and Gary have caught up to me. I move in behind them and we're talking about the nightmare that was the run to Breitenbush. Russ' tummy is off so I offer some candied ginger. It offers him some relief and I move on ahead. I catch up to another runner and we're trying to find the aid station, looking for the Ollalie CG sign and we soon find it, make the turn up and then a helpful and bundled up vollie directs us to the left. I still have some speed left and I run into the aid station (Mile 75) and am greeted by a curious sight. About four racers including Gilles, Tony and Shawn are huddled by a propane heater, then I notice it is getting COLDER in this section. I get my drop bag, switch to waistpack as I want my hands free and some more gels, some soup. Gilles, Shawn and Tony take this as their cue to move, Everyone's commenting on my ability to come back, I just wanted to leave asap as the mood was contagious. On my way out I bumped into Gary and Russ who picked up his pacer Bud. I move up towards the PCT and notice Shawn and Tony have pulled off to the side and are rooting around for some more warm gear. More runners are filtering down to Ollalie. I say all the right things that ultras say to each other, knowing full well they are going to be running you down. I catch up to Gilles who had a pit stop as we make our way to Lemti Creek. My race is going great, my energy levels are flagging a little bit from lack of caffeine but I'm still moving forward when suddenly I feel some movement. Flashback to package pickup on Friday, Olga said help yourself to the freebies which included some Nuun tabs, Sunsweet apricots and pitted cherry prunes. I had four packs of the prunes hoping it would work on race morning. Well, technically it did work on race morning, but I guess I miscalculated which morning it was supposed to work. Fortunately I still had all the unused paper towels so it was all good. Going into Lemti Creek was frustrating as I lost my bearings and didnt remember where the trail was leading into even though I saw other runners going that way, I remained unconvinced. I actually sat down on a log and dozed for 2 minutes because I didnt know if I was on the right path or not. Another runner caught me and that spurred me on and much to my surprise and disgust there was the radio operator not 200 feet away from me who redirected me back on trail to Pinheads. A little bit more climbing and a nice downhill to Pinheads (Mile 85). Calories were taken but nothing seemed too appetizing so I hustled out of there ever mindful that it was getting colder. Gary, Russ and Bud caught me shortly afterwards, but Russ looked a little out of it. Bud let me go, but I had no energy and was trying to regroup. My flashlight also kept winking out at inopportune times. I was sitting down and Thumper and her pacer Darcy gave me an energy bar, but it wasnt working well, then Gary comes tearing down and bumps into my leg and that ironically got me going. I don't see Russ anywhere, so I figured he must be ahead. Warm Springs (Mile 91)was a comparative oasis after enduring cold temperatures and general fatigue, it was about 24:20 into the run and for the first time I sat down at an aid station trying to get warm. I accepted a cup of broth and slowly let the liquid envelop my core. Miraclously there was still a few slivers of pumpkin bread were left and I snarfed them down. Thumper and her pacer, got up and moved down the trail. I finally got out of the chair when I saw McMuff come in. I started running down the long downhill but I didnt go more than 20 minutes when I felt those prunes work their magic yet again.

The only problem was I had no more paper towels left, there was some soft leaves/ferns but those were in groups of three so I decided to play it safe. I was in a panic and every person that passed me had no tp. Finally McMuff and her pacer came down and although she did stop and root around for some tp she remember she lost it eight miles ago. She takes off down the trail and I can feel the turtle's head. Then I remember, I do have paper: my pace chart, it's in a baggie and it's dry. Two small problems, if I use it, I won't know how far's the next station and the other problem, it has edges. Oh well, necessity vs practicality. Practicality wins every time!

To be concluded....

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Cruising in the Hood: Part 3

I left Horse Camp at 12:05pm with both bottles full plus a handheld and walked a few minutes just to let the salt and all the calories kick in. As I begin jogging, I realize this is not the same course I ran the PCT 50 miler last July. For one thing, the course is initially flat and very runnable. In fact, I make really good time and hit the first fire road crossing after a few minor hills. I make a mental note of the course as I had passed Miller trail about 1.5 miles before the fire road. I feel really good all the way up to Red Wolf Pass and even though I get passed by Anil (who I met on the last 25 miles of Tahoe Rim 100), I'm okay with it. I drink, eat ginger and pee regularly. Get to the aid station in just a little over an hour and think I see Gilles leaving, but I take my time getting bottles refilled. I know I have 69 miles to catch him, so I'm not worried. It's starting to get warm so I hustle back on the PCT because I know I have 2 miles of shaded downhill singletrack in front of me.

I remember how good it felt the last time I did the section two months ago and with no sour stomach it was even better. I let gravity take over and pass another runner who I thought was Gillles, but some other guy. Hmmph. I guess like me, Gilles wants to redeem himself after Cascade Crest. Hit a fireroad, slight right and back on the PCT. More downhill and the temperature's a little cool which just encourages me to speed up. I'm actually feeling good and take advantage of this mood to pick it up. I hit the first patch of exposed trail which I know is the prelude to the little creek with a log bridge. No sooner do I hit the bridge, I see three of the six racers who I will spend the next 20 hours with leapfrogging each other for most of the race: Anil, Glen and Kate. As soon as they see me at the other end of the log bridge, they started running up to Warm Springs. By the time I get to the other side of the bridge, they have vanished, but I catch them pretty easily as I know it's a steady hike to the aid. Soon it's just the four of us in a conga line going up, mostly walking with a little running here and there. We come up to another runner Perry with red shoes and matching socks even though that was a coincidence or so Perry claimed. Most of the runners scoot ahead as I take a pee break, (damn proper hydration!) and when I catch up we're at Warm Springs (Mile 38.5) where the most delightful little guy asked for bib number and in almost hushed tones said there was possibly some pumpkin bread available. Sure enough, the little guy's mum was slicing up a loaf and if Iwanted some. "Bread? I'll have some of that. And I did and it was good and there was much rejoicing....." I also spot Gilles here who's just leaving. I get my bottles refilled,take some cookies and more pumpkin bread,mumble "Thanghk yaew." And I starting climbing with the Party of 5. We do a fair bit of walking here ,picking Gilles up along the way and then see a nice little dusty descent. As Gilles, Glen and Kate take off, I spend a little time soaking my bandana, and tying it around my mouth as a makeshift dust mask and it feels good for about 20 seconds. Then I have to stop and dump out all the accumulated pebbles and grit out of my shoes. Perry passes me here as I had passed him doing the same thing that I was doing now. I put away the bandana and haul ass down the trail leaving Anil in my proverbial and literal dust. I catch up to Perry, then Gilles who lets me pass, I'm still running downhill when I spot a curious sight. A runner (#12) has taken off his waistpack and is lying down on the incline on the right side of the trail and I think he's taking a nap! I ask him if he's okay and he's fine, just laying in the shade. I resume my run and not less than half a mile later I see pictures of Pinheads. A little bit of a run and I make it to the Pinheads aid station (Mile 44.4). I take some hot chicken noodle soup from the really helpful and attentive volunteers. I soon see Gilles and I ask him about the napping racer. He couldn't believe it either. Now we get told that there may not be any aid at Lemti Creek because the guy is currently walking there hauling 4 jugs of water as we speak, so I immediately refill all three bottles as the sun is out in full force. I finish the rest of the soup and see the candy table, snag a Kit Kat bar and notice the three bottles of Jack Daniels, rum and decide to make a move out of there before temptation kicks in. We (Glen, Kate, Gilles and I ) climb again for about 5 minutes and then starting running a moderate downhill. About ?minutes later I see water jugs on the side of the trail. Was that really four miles we just ran? Are we at Lemti already?" Nope, it was barely two miles." said Glen. Kate refilled her bottle,letting Glen off the hook. I run with Gilles as we take the lead on Glen and Kate. Perry and Anil are about 5 minutes behind them. Gilles and I take turns leading/setting the pace onthe flats. We still walk anything that resembles an uphill. We both figure that a sub 24 is out of reachbut maybe a PR for Gilles sub 26:30 is very doable. As for me, I was happy just running, taking care of any issues before they flared up. There was a little bit of confusion as we lost the PCT on our way to Lemti Creek,but we just followed all the shoe prints on the trail. I mean what were the odds there was another race going on. I consulted the aid station chart and figured we were another 1.25 miles away from the aid station. Some nice cruisy singletrack was ahead and while I was looking for some skin lube in my pack, Gilles took off like a man possessed. I got my gear sorted and spotted Glen and Kate coming around the corner. That spurred me on and I was quickly back on Gilles footsteps. Now there was apparently some issue with the Ollalie Campground aid station. It was all sorted out by the time we got there but there were rumors going around that the race leaders had ran past the previously unmarked station and followed a different set of markings alltogether. Oh, well. Soon we came to a volunteer who directed us to the 3/8 of a mile that led to the campground. This was a little more technical trail and a welcome relief after all the running we were doing. Gilles got ahead of me at this point and was first in the aid station 55 mile mark. It was about 5:40pm, so 12:40 total time to run 55 miles and I was feeling pretty good compared to Cascade Crest,where I had to drop out at 53 miles in 16:45. There were various volunteers milling about,the racers were all sitting down. I pointed out my drop bag to a vollie and sat down and retrieved my 2nd handheld, reflective jacket, Runners Den longsleeve thermal shirt, dry shorts. I made my way behind a car and quickly changed. I spent a few extra minutes waiting for some ramen noodle soup. Gilles went on ahead and I wouldn't see him again until Mile 65 Breitenbush a/s. I dropped the waistpack (minor mistake here),opting for the double handheld for the night section. Grabbed some extra paper towels for "just in case" .

I was a little slow doing the 3/8 back to the PCT, waiting for the calories to kick in, by the time I startedthe hike up to rejoin the PCT,the leaders were coming back into Ollalie and headed back home. They were already twenty miles ahead of me. Well, so much for going for the win,but as Karl once said, "Without big dreams, you wouldn't have spectacular failures." Small little climb and as my right achilles is starting to make its presence known and my left foot with the plantar fascia occasionally screaming at me, I decide to just walk a little bit. I make it to the top of the hill and everything is fine again which is weird considering I havent taken any ibuprofen yet. I still concentrate on drinking and eating when I can, it's just hard as I only have so many pockets and I wearing this jacket for the first time so I'mtrying to get comfortable. Terry comes running the other way, pacing Shawna who looks really strong. We say hi to each other and I soon find a rhythm balancing my bottles, headlamp in one pocket, gels and ginger in another all the while running down the trail.Everything is very peaceful, the sun is setting, I'm just rolling along. I come to a volunteer who's hanging up glowsticks for the night section. I pick up my pace as I think the aid station is close by. Then I hear it. Is someone playing a guitar? Now who could be playing a guitar around here? Holy crap, it's Show N Tell fromthe Portland Humpin Hash! We greet each other as only hashers can and I make my way down to Ollalie Lake, 58.6 miles. Grab some more soup and spot Nic Plemel who was sitting down adjusting his pack. Glen has arrived with his pacer and we're all refuelling ready for the night section going into Breitenbush. As I'mheading out with Nic, I ask the vollie what's the course leading up to Breitenbush like. Well, the vollie said, the leaders are running the out and back in under 3 hours . Oh, okay. That's like 14:30/mi pace. That's sounds reasonable. If the trail is anything like what we just ran over the last 59 miles, it should take me about 4 hours and it'll be easier because it'll be cooler.

It did not take me 4 hours.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Whooping it up in the Hood: Part 2

I walked up the short incline and started to descend through the singletrack that is the PCT and was immediately struck by how dusty it was. Apparently all the frontrunners were trying to warm up by going a wee bit too fast. Now my night running and early morning running is pretty similar in the fact that I suck at both. The little headlamp I had was doing a piss poor job of illuminating the trail and I was already starting to trip on a few rocks and slopes. I decided to go fairly conservative to start, 14 min/mile pace: just enough to keep warm without going nuts and having a really good first 1/4 and then a disastrous 3/4 later on. It was only 12 minutes in when I saw Lorie heading back towards me. Lorie had the flu and had already puked twice, before the race started. She decided to drop as she couldnt keep food or drink down.

As I said before I dropped out of Cascade because of nausea and stomach issues, which I believe was caused by my Nathan bladder pack, so this race I opted for the double waterbottle waistpack, which was great as it had two side pouches stuffed with peanut butter on white superstore bread,gels and candied ginger. At various points on the run I would trade places with a couple of runners as each of us were just trying to find our own pace and rhythm. Finally after the Little Crater Lake aid station, which I ran through, I was warmed up enough and moved on. It was also here that I got caught by Lorie who sat on a rock for 10 minutes and decided to "undrop" herself. We leapfrogged each other for 5 minutes until I took the lead for good. Dawn started around 7am and it's here where I started to catch runners who may have gone out too hard,too fast. Except in this case I caught up to Tony and Shawn who were two weeks after running Plain 100, Shawn in fact was 1st woman! I turned off my light at this point but they still had their lights on. We chatted briefly and they graciously moved aside for me on this uphill portion of the PCT. Passed two more runners leading into Hwy 58 aid station. Took some salt tabs as I had actually put them in my other drop bags and was warned about the potential for wasps and such. Funny thing was during the whole race, I didn't get stung or even get close to a wasp/bee. I guess being in the back of the pack does have its advantages.

About 3 minutes after leaving the aid station,the first male was already on his way back. He looked really strong and the course conditions definitely were favoring him. Heading into Frog Lake, there was a more steady trickle of runners coming towards me. For the most part, everybody was looking really good even running up the trail as I was running down. There were a few runners who may have gone out a little hard, but it was a little early in the day for me to even consider catching them seeing as they were at least two miles ahead and I hadn't even hit the turnaround yet. I saw more Club Fat Assers at this point with Chad and Kirsten running side by side like they were doing at Stormy two months ago. I saw Karl, John and then Gilles on the ascent just before the Hwy crossing. Gilles' words to me, "I love this trail, Baldwin." I also ran into two Hashers one from Ashland, OR: Thumper Humper/Annie and McMuff the Crime Pussy/Lynette from Boise. McMuff was wearing this little skirt composed of ribbons. I made up a little more time on this section and I hit Frog Lake aid station at 3:08. I saw Jerry and Paul Heffernan, both completed Cascade Crest this year, manning this aid station, refilling bottles and stuff. Paul and I exchanged hellos. At this point, it was already starting to warm up and I decided to lose my souvenir shirt to Paul who was going to be sweeping the course, so he could give it back to me later. Turns out he was actually sweeping the first half and I never saw him again that day. He emailed me after the race and will mail the shirt back to me. He'll even wash it.

I exit the aid station at3:10 and begin the trek back to Horse Camp. A few more runners are coming in including Tony and Shawn and now I'm starting to run in earnest. I take advantage of the shade where I can and just run as best I can. All too soon, I make it back to Hwy58 and then Little Crater Lake, everything's feeling okay, but I can already tell that I have two hotspots developing on both big toes that already are starting to blister. My heels are fine, really taped them well and I don't want to take off my shoes so I just concentrate on the trail. I catch and pass more runners in singles and twos, with about 3 miles to go I pull off for a pit stop and then am passed by all those I just passed. The 5 minutes I spend here are well worth it and as I am lighter, I easily regain the lead on 3 of the racers including Danielle who had taken a little bit of time sitting down. Beware the chair!

About 1.5 miles to go and both toes are throbbing, particularly the right one. I make the turn on a really tight switchback and my right blister pops! I felt like I got shot in the foot, the pain was so intense but because I'm wearing Drymax socks, all the fluid got absorbed through the sock and it stopped hurting quickly. I can hear the highway and soon arrive to Horse Camp at 5:55. A 25 minute negative split. I grab my drop bag and quickly change into a dry shirt and downing a thermos of now cold chicken noodle soup. Salt is good. Sean, who was crewing Kirsten and would be pacing her for the last 25 miles, helps me out here. I take all my gels and refill my pouches with food. Kirsten got to Horse Camp at 5:00, Sean tells me. I confide in Sean that I think everyone started too fast. Kirsten said the same thing, said Sean. I posed for a picture under the PCT sign for Lucinda using the horse poop as a prop and told Barry that Lorie was still on the course. I found out later she dropped out for good at Horse Camp having run 28 miles on an empty stomach.

Refuelled and renewed I enter the PCT for the 2nd out and back to Breitenbush.

Friday, October 2, 2009

Hangin' in the 'Hood: Part 1

So there I was: It was a very cold Saturday morning last week where I found myself at my car, directly across from the start line, with two minutes to go, pulling on the souvenir long sleeve tech shirt over two t-shirts and Moeben arm sleeves with this single thought going through my head: "What the !@#$% am I doing here?"

Of course I knew what I was doing here, having DNF'd Cascade Crest 1 month earlier and running over 11 hours at Pacific Crest Trail (PCT) 50 mile left me very few options to requalify for Western States (two time loser + fire rules!). I only had two more chances: Hundred in the Hood and Haney 2 Harrison 100km. I was not looking forward to running 100km on the road in November so the Hood was my best option. 12,000 ft of climb spread out over 101.9 mi. That's right. We'd be running over 100 miles, which was fine, this being a first annual race and all, I'd much rather it be overdistance than under. I want to get my money's worth. I was even okay with the fact that I would not be getting a buckle as the race website clearly stated, had to run sub 24. Since I dropped out at Cascade at the 53 mile mark (Hyak) at 16:45 with a queasy stomach only 30 short days ago, I was just looking to finish under 30 hours. Up to this point my previous best time for 100 miles was 29:29:59 at Stormy.

Cue Saturday at 4:20am, I'm up and trying to stay warm as it was a very cold night to sleep in my car even though it was my best sleep ever before a race. The three IPA's helped, I guess. There's an endless row of cars looking for parking on Hwy 42 and I walked amongst the racers huddled by the heaters for the race briefing by the RD Olga. There were a few important changes on the course on race day which differed from the website. Little Crater Lake was no longer an aid station. For those of you reading this who ran the PCT 50 mile in July, you may remember going out on to a boardwalk/plank trail to a parking lot/trailhead. This was no longer possible. I think the out and back to Little Crater Lk was at the most 1 mile, and seeing as we would skip it on the way back, meant to me, the first outnback was two miles short at 26 miles long leaving 76 miles for the 2nd loop.

Also, the night section would not be marked (reflective tape, glowsticks). This was to test our confidence. As you'll read later, a lot more than our confidence was being tested during the night. Furthermore, the Ollallie Campground aid station would be the only deviation off the PCT, we would be going 3/8 of a mile to the aid station. And because we would hit that station twice the total distance off the PCT would be 12/8 of a mile or 1.5 miles. Also no official clock, except on the watch of the RD which was 3 minutes faster than mine. Of course all this new info meant nothing to me as my brain was starting to freeze without the assistance of a Slurpee. Since I had packed all my longsleeves in my dropbags, I decided to break with tradition/race taboo and put on my souvenir Hundred in the Hood shirt. I had one minute to spare and dashed my way to the back of the pack, but because of the extra shirt, my Nathan two bottle waistpack no longer fit. "!" I spent another twenty seconds tightening straps, shifting bottles around and briskly walked out of the start/finish area and onto the Hwy.

"Where did everybody go? " Then I saw a stream of headlamps and flashlights round the curve going toward the trailhead. I jogged after them knowing full well what was to come having done the same thing two months earlier. Logjam at the trailhead. I walked up the hill following the conga line towards Frog Lake and was one of the last participants to enter the narrow, dark trail. "Well," I thought to myself, "here we go."

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

I'm 3 for 4 in 100 milers.

I know, I haven't blogged since March, six whole months, but I haven't been doing much....except last weekend where I ran the first annual Hundred in the Hood 103 miler in 27:46:52. That's about 105 minute personal best from Stormy. A full report to be posted when I can find time.

Friday, March 13, 2009

On the road again

No, I'm not going to Chuckanut this year to see if I can better my 50k time. I've got an 18 mile training run with my 4:15-4:45 group tomorrow morning. My group is expecting 17 miles, but they're getting 18 because it's Saturday, normally my day of rest and hashing but both are now in jeopardy. It's almost 9pm which means there's 4 more hours to go before the CFA Fools (Barbeau, Jensen, Hyson and subbing in for Machray - Alexander!) start on the Coyote Two Moon 1oo miler in Ojai, California. That's right. They're starting at 1am. I believe that's the Sandbagger wave start as per the controversy last year. The only problem is I don't think they've had enough training as the weather conditions have been absolutely horrendous here in Vancouver. Not that there's any actual running involved, Go up a hill, go down a hill spread out over 100 miles. Joy.

I'm at the end of Week 7 and I've just realized I still have 41 days to go with 10 minute trainer. My core is really strong, I can see a hint of abs, and I have to go shopping for new jeans as there's more room in the back end. My speed workouts have really picked up from last week, I wasnt really pushing it on last Thurs' workout: 4* 2km at 3km time trial pace (6:40/mi). 2km = 5 laps of a 400m track. I was only putting in my effort on the last lap rather than being consistent on all 5 laps. My coach called me on my bullshit so I was really resolved to work a lot harder for yesterday's workout: 5 * 800m, 30 sec rest, then 400m, 90 sec rest btw sets. I was with a group of 3 other runners who were in my pace group: 3:20/800m, sub 1:40/400m. First 800m was a solid 3:20, 30 sec rest, then a very fast 1:20/400m. 90 quick secs later and we went again. And then I was alone for the last 3 repeats. My 800ms were consistent 3:20 and my 400ms were 1:30-1:35. My breaks were the same 30/90 sec. Turns out the other 3 were taking longer recovery breaks although they said they were getting faster after each repeat, whatever.

My long runs are also improving although I hope that my group can make it to the start line. Some have voiced concerns that they can't make the distance at the pace that we're running which is slow 11-12min/mile.
But that's kinda the point, we don't do race pace on our long runs, cause the body would simply break down. Last week was funny, my group is 85% women and there were no available washrooms for 11 miles, so they had to go without a bathroom break for over 2 hours. Tomorrow, I think the first washroom is at 1.5 and next at nine mile mark. Gotta remember to bring tp, you never know...

Later tomorrow, if I can make it to North Van for the St Paddy's day Hash, green beer and Irish stew, it's magically delicious!

On a hash related note, just received some bad news from the Ashland H3 in Oregon. Baggy Organ is in very ill health and right now all the docs can do is make his remaining hours comfortable. Cheers, Baggy.