Wednesday, September 30, 2009
The Hundred in the Hood
As I was planning my race schedule for the 2009 season, I read somewhere that Oregon was going to get its first 100m trail race. I have always thought to myself that if someone put on a 100m race in OR, I was going to do it. I grew up in Portland and I still feel a strong connection to the area and I have already done a 50k and 50 miler in OR in 2006 and 2007. I checked the date and it worked out perfectly because I wasn't planning on running the Wasatch 100 this year. I also noticed it was on the same general area of my first 50 miler I had done in 2007, the PCT Ultra 50 Miler. Another great feature was the course was going to be run on the Pacific Crest Trail which I knew from experience was really nice single track through nice older growth forest. The route was also two out and backs sections so it was going to be fairly easy to crew which was important because I was going to ask my wife to crew for me again.b
The were two aspects of the race I was worried about. The first was the course is flat, at least for the type of races I was used too doing. As I've stated in previous post I don't consider myself much of a runner, more of trail slogger. This course only has 12,000 feet of vertical gain. The question to myself was could I turn myself in too a 100m trail runner instead of 100m trail slogger? The next issue which I was less worried about was what kind of problems would come up with the race being put on for the first time.
Marge and I spent Friday before the race checking out the aid station locations, checked in for the race and then went for a short hike on the course. This turned out to be a great idea. The trail was very, very dusty. I decided that there was going to be no easy warm up in the morning, I needed to get myself into the top 10 or so unless I wanted to spend the first 1/2 hour choking on dust, not a great way to start a 100m race.
Race directors Olga Varlamova and Mike Burke set us on our way promptly at 5:00am, I let all the guys with sponsor shirts go ahead and slotted in behind two ladies, I was perfectly placed somewhere in the top 10, it was little dusty but not to bad. I can't image how bad it was back in the main pack, it must have been brutal. I could tell that the two woman ahead of me were determined about making time as there was absolutely no chit chat at all. In fact in the first 14 miles not a word was said between any of us running together. As I came into the second aid station at mile 14 at 2:20 in the race I realized I was 30 min. ahead of my schedule. I didn't worry about my pace as I didn't feel as I had pushed at all. After this aid station we would reverse course and head back to the start finish area.
The return trip was uneventful, I ran into the Horse Camp aid station mile 28 at 4 hours 40 minutes, now 40 min ahead my schedule. Marge took great care of me and I was off, I wasn't expected to see Marge again until mile 55. I was now basically back at the start finish line and was headed south for the next 37 miles then would retrace my steps and return to the start finish. It was starting to heat up but most of the trail was covered with shade and for once I almost looked normal instead of being covered head to toe in drenching sweat. The miles went quickly and I arrived at mile 44 aid station still 40 min. ahead of schedule.
This is when things started to get a little weird. When I arrived at the mile 44 aid station they asked me if the other aid stations had been set up and if they had water yet. They had for me but I guess for some of the front runners the aid stations had not been set up in time. Earlier at the mile 33 aid station the lady there had said I was at mile 28. I said that's funny because I left mile 28 an hour ago. She just looked at me like I didn't know what I was talking about. Then I was informed by the mile 44 aid station attendant that the next aid station was not going to be there. No big deal I thought 10.5 to get mile 55 aid station was not going to be a big deal. I took a little extra time to fuel up and headed out.
I was still moving good and had expected to cover the 10.5 miles in around two hours. Two hours came and passed, I had run out of water and it was the hottest part of the day.I thought maybe I was just moving slower than expected, then I ran into another racer Mark Tanaka, and he was not happy . We both knew that we had to leave the PCT to get to the aid station at mile 55 and both had been looking for it. Mark's GPS was saying we had gone 14 miles since the last aid. We both realized we had missed the aid station. A few minutes later we arrived at the mile 58.5 aid station. Now 14 miles with out aid is no big deal if you know that going in, 14 miles not knowing kinda throws you for a loop. Plus now I had missed Marge with my lights, jacket and of course my energy drink and power gels. I was also really worried about her. Would they give her updates as to were I was? Would she try to come up the rough road to the next aid station and miss me somewhere? It was a bad scene with angry runners and the aid station people trying to do all the could to take care of people and get in contact with the missed aid station. I decided to try and focus on what I could control grabbed some gels and took off.
The next section of the course was spectacular, high alpine lakes and views of the Mt. Jefferson Wilderness and of course Mt. Jefferson itself , and finally some nice rough trails and some climbing to make me feel at home. This took my mind off worrying about Marge and I moved along nicely. I hit mile 65 and the turn around aid station still 40 min ahead of schedule. It looked like I was hour to and half behind the front runners. The two girls I had run with at the start were running around 30 minutes ahead of me and I figured I was still somewhere around 10th place. On the way back I started to feel some pain in my left knee, not terrible but enough to make me worried. I started to slow down no so much from the pain but more from trying not to pound the knee too bad knowing I had a long way still to go.
As I neared the mile 75 aid station which was now marked as though a crazy person had been given 1,000 feet of flagging I was praying that Marge was there. It was getting close to dark, I had one very tiny emergency light, no jacket and was not sure what I would do if she wasn't there. She was! Wow what a huge weight off my shoulders, I have never been so happy to see Marge during a race. I decided it was going to pay off later in the race to take a good break and sit down for 10 min and eat some soup which is what I did. I was in good spirits and realized I had 7 hours to make my goal of 21 hours for the race. I knew I had a good chance of beating that time. Marge had me all set up and I headed out in feeling revived, my only worry now was my knee, would it hold up for the next 25 miles.
I passed two guys soon after I left Marge, than ran alone for the rest of the race.(in fact I ran almost the whole race alone) The 10.5 miles seemed to take for ever before I hit the next aid station. Its was one of those great aid stations that seems to really put you in a good mood. It was manned by ultra runners (you can always tell) Talking Heads was blasting on the radio, and they kept trying to get my to drink some booze which kept me laughing the whole time. After 5 min I figured I better get moving or I was going to sit down by the fire and start drinking rum and cokes.
The next two hours were very hard and I had a huge motivation problem. My knee was giving me problems but the pain was not that bad I just couldn't get myself to keep running. I kept talking to myself asking were the motivation was, where was all that drive I had earlier in the race, I actually felt embarrassed for moving so slow. I thought of the other guys in the MRC and how they fought through their low points in this years Wasatch 100, which just made me more mad because I really didn't have any major issues, so I didn't feel I had excuse for moving so slow. I think a good pacer could have been a great help at this point to say the least. I slowly started moving at a good pace again and was surprised nobody had caught up with me.
I hit the last aid station and was feeling better. I was 18:40 into the race and thought I still had a chance at a 19:30 finish. The aid station attendant told me I had 4.5 miles to go. I took off with a quickened pace thinking the race was in the bag, 4.5 miles of mostly downhill, no problem I thought with a smile on my face. 4 miles later I was sitting on the trail staring at my head lamp that was 5 feet off the trail in the bushes wondering if I would manage to find my water bottles. I had just taken a great rolling fall going downhill on a perfectly smooth trail. I picked myself up, found my bottles(but lost my jacket) and thought no problem .5 mile to go. Nope, wrong again, turns out the mileage from the last aid station to the finish was 6 miles. Oh well, the finish came soon enough, just not at 19:30. I crossed the finish line at 19:50, got a hug from Olga and buckle for going sub 24.
Even with the glitches I loved this race, the trail was awesome, scenery fantastic and the aid stations when functional, were great. First place overall went to Ray Sanchez in a time of 16:56, first place women and 6th overall went to Shawna Wiskey her first 100M race in a time of 18:26. 41 people went under 24 hours! Full results here. For a behind the scenes report check out Olga's R.D. report here. Its gives great insight to what R.D deal with. Thanks to Mike and Olga and all the volunteers. On a final note even though I told her of course, a big thanks to my wife Marge who come through with flying colors and not only took care of me but also many other runners as well. I can go with out a pacer but would be hard pressed to tackle a hundred without her.
Now its time to get back to a course with some climbing! Christian and I will tackle the HURT 100 in Jan.Can't wait
P.S The Swiss knot rocked, perfect for 102 miles!
Thursday, September 24, 2009
On a hot dusty Saturday afternoon sitting on the side of a trail completely whipped from swinging a Pulaski, I asked another Wasatch trail work “volunteer” if he had a goal for his race. He said both proudly and reluctantly that he was aiming for a sub-24 hour finish. I internally grimaced. He was a tall fit guy, probably a fast marathoner. I wanted to tell him that he should just be happy with a finish for his first ultra. Honestly, I felt threatened, I was just now going for my first sub-24. Until this year I had not publicly or privately aimed at a sub-24 finish. In 2001, before my 3rd Wasatch, I commented on the ride to the start that I had the race "figured out". “The Rocket” laughed and turned around seriously and said "Those are dangerous words." I got it. There are so many variables at play that a good race sometimes doesn’t happen despite the best preparation. With this in mind my first goal was to finish. The final time, according to Dave Hunt is just icing on the cake. So with my pace chart set for 23:48, Dave’s time from last year, I set out to finish, and hopefully Chase the Cheetah.
As is tradition, Wasatch Fred (Riemer) and “The Rocket” (Errol Jones), drove Erik, Christian and me to the start. Fred, who says that he is not responsible for anything, is responsible for introducing me to the Wasatch 100, and getting me to the start on time. For both I am forever grateful. On the ride to the start, Erik said that it would be great if we could all stay together. I wasn’t sure if he was expecting a bad day for him or a great day for me. At least we would all try to run together for a few miles.
Erik, “Armani” Jay and I all found each other at the start. Erik’s misfortunate drawstring break to his shorts minutes before the race was comical, but I really was worried that he might be running Chinscrapper bare-bottomed. (He ran the first 40 miles with shorts that would barely stay-up. The picture above shows him at Big Mountain running to change.) Christian it turned out was cutting it close (time-wise) in line at the Porta-John. (Shilling would eschew this as frivolous since there is plenty of time to take care of business just off the trail.) Within minutes though, Christian caught up through the tight traffic of runners on the first section of trail. By the first major climb, Erik and Jay took off ahead of Christian and me. As we climbed the temperature stared to drop, and there was a pleasant chill that I tried to remember and enjoy. The day was going to heat up. We passed a few ambitious folks who started out fast only to slow down. Christian thought he knew one of the guys that we passed, and asked his name. Christian introduced the two of us by first name. The guy asked if I was Peter Lindgren, which shocked me. I
certainly didn’t think that I had any type of name recognition, but used the ego boost to send us down the trail.
Christian and I ran the first 18 miles together to the Francis Peak aid station. We hit the aid station about 8 minutes earlier than I wanted, but with very little effort. We both fumbled around in our drop bags, got rid of headlamps, picked up supplies of food (gels, sports bars, etc.), and filled water bottles. As we got going again, Christian returned to the aid station to throw away his wrappers. I walked a little and he quickly caught up, and we were running again.
The sun was now up and we were both very conscious of staying hydrated. Christian drank a full bottle more than I on the initial climb, and I started to worry that my strategy of keeping my fluid status even and my energy stores up was already falling short.
The next 5 miles I kept pace with Christian, and we hit the Skyline Road aid station together. Rich was there and offered some cold bottles and encouragement. He told us that Goeff Roes was 5 minutes ahead of Karl, but with a salt-caked face. We couldn’t have imagined that Goeff would not only hold Karl off but destroy the course record.
We caught Shane and Carter shortly before Sessions. I was starting to have trouble keeping pace with Christian, and knew that I shouldn’t push any harder than what felt was an easy pace. I consciously let go of trying to keep up, but at the same time was able to keep the gap to a few minutes. During the section between Sessions and Swallow Rocks the terrain was hot and exposed. I regained time on Christian and was able to catch him at the Swallow Rocks aid station. We both enjoyed popsicles, and ice in our bottles. We were caught by “Uncle Dave” before Big Mountain. He greeted us as his two favorite nephews, put his arms on our shoulders and lifted his feet off the ground for a ride. After a few yards of being carried, and a few laughs, he was gone.
At the Big Mountain aid station, mile 39, I was met by Jessica, Astrid, Mats, Greg and Greg’s wife, Marge. They took care of getting a few things together and I was off with Greg as my pacer. While I felt pretty good, the day continued to heat up. I was not peeing. I downed my bottles pretty quickly, and then used an extra bottle of water that Greg carried to pour water on my head. We made it to Alexander Ridge in almost exactly the time I had
expected for that section. I caught up to David Hayes and left before him. In retrospect I should have hung around and had more to drink. I didn’t though and in addition to a headache, started to feel sleepy over the next several miles. I wondered if I had consumed too much free water and not enough salt. I wondered if I was starting to have cerebral edema from
hyponatremia. Next, I thought I might have a seizure on the side of the trail. That would certainly make an interesting story that I didn’t want to be part of. I took an electrolyte capsule from Greg to be on the cautious side, even though I had little to no peripheral edema. By the next aid station I got my diagnosis from the 12 year-old checking runners in on the scale, dehydration. My weight was down 6 pounds. My very excellent crew of wife and children, fixed me up with fluids and food, and again Greg and I were off for another climb, finally escaping the heat.
Christian I found out was still at Alexander Ridge dealing with his “damn stomach” (Betsy’s description). This was almost an exact a replay of his race a two years ago. This time though I knew that he would allow and make things turn around. Even with a few hours lead I thought he was capable of catching up.
Climbing up Lambs Canyon, I really started to fade. I was passed by three people, Betsy Nye, Mandy Hosford, and another guy that I would catch much later. It was little consolation, but as I climbed this 3 mile section, I was able to catch Corbin Talley. He was in pretty bad shape, so all I could do was offer feeble encouragement as we slowly went by. After some vomiting, Corbin seemed to get better and passed me at the top of Bare Ass Pass. Coming down to Elbow Fork Greg and I encountered two woman and a pack of no less than 8 dogs that were barking uncontrollably. I was glad to make it through the pack unscathed, and hoped that any hikers and runners to pass these morons and their dogs would be safe as well. We passed Corbin again just before the road. I thought, as a fast marathoner, he would for sure catch and pass on the road, but we never saw him again.
By Big Water, mile 62, I was 41 minutes behind where I thought I needed to be for a sub 24 hour finish. I was met by Jessica, Astrid, and Mats with smiles and encouragement. I put on a new short sleeve shirt and a long sleeve capilene top, that I quickly removed after the Millcreek aid station and had Greg carry the rest of the way to Brighton. While the day was too hot the night was proving to be very comfortable for running. I didn’t yet feel great, but I was starting to pee, my headache was gone and I passed Dog Lake without lying down on the ground for a nap.
At Desolation Lake, mile 66, I was now 49 minutes behind. By Scott’s, mile 70, I had only made up 4 minutes. I was still 45 minutes behind the pace. The good news was that my legs felt great. Greg kept encouraging me that we would make up some time on the ridge to Scott’s pass (mile 70). While we hadn’t made up much time, a few pieces started to fall into place. Greg started to work on my energy stores and gave me sesame seed cookies to eat. At this point I was still trying to eat nauseating gels. No energy in meant little energy to run. Now I had some fuel, and we were headed for 4 miles of downhill and another 0.8 miles of a gradual climb on the road to the Brighton Lodge. This was the now or never point, and I decided I had little to lose. I ran down the dirt trail as quickly as I could without breathing hard. Once we hit the road, I slowed down some, but was still able to pass one runner. This would be the last runner I would see the remainder of the race.
At the Brighton Lodge, mile 75, I quickly weighed in, changed my shirt, and drank a Red Bull. Greg gave Alan an update of how we had done and my general improving condition. Kevin Shilling gave me a bag of gum drops, which at the time I had no idea would taste so good or be as easy to tolerate. I hopped up and headed for the door, knowing that I needed to run the next 25 miles in 6 hours and 45 minutes or less to finish under 24 hours. This was substantially faster than the 7 hours and 8 minutes that was my previous best and the amount of time I had built into my pace chart. As Alan and I headed out, I had a sense of urgency to get going. Alan, who is 60 years-old, and has been with me the last 4 years on this section of trail was breathing hard. I knew that he would warm up, but immediately he was concerned that I was going to out pace him. We made the climb to Catherine’s Pass and Sunset Peak (10,500 feet) quickly. My legs were strong enough that I ran some of this section, which is something I have only been able to do in training, and never with 75 miles in my legs. The long downhill was easier on Alan, and we settled into a conversation. We reached Ant Knolls in 75 minutes. I was now only 10 minutes behind my projected pace.
Alan was already plotting his detour to cut around the mountain and let me go as fast as I could to Rock Springs and Pole Hollow. This would leave him 8 rather and 17 miles from Pole Line Pass. We climbed “The Grunt” a 380 foot climb that is not so long, but steep. Alan struggled to keep pace, but held close. I knew that I would need the company later on and didn’t want to lose my pacer altogether. Together we easily cruised into the mile 83 aid station, Pole Line Pass. I was now 3 minutes ahead of schedule with one of the toughest sections of the course that I would run alone.
Usually I am timid about running alone in the dark deep in the mountains, but I really enjoyed this. The glow from my lights lit a little world in front of me, and I was in a trance dancing along through the night trying to run as much as I could. The moon was rising in the East in an orange glow. There was some magic to being alone on the trail in the middle of the night. I was comfortable. I made the last climb to “Point of Contention” and was finally able to see Mount Timpanogos in the distance. At Rock Springs, mile 87, I was 9 minutes ahead of my pace chart. I picked up a few Ritz crackers with peanut butter. I stowed these for later, and headed off for “Irv’s torture chamber”.
“Irv’s torture chamber” looks to be downhill on an elevation map of the course. There are however 7 climbs that follow some very technical downhill runs in powder like dirt. “The dive” and “the plunge” are not favorites for most, but I personally love these downhill sections that may have had their last running as the course may be rerouted next year. This night I filled my shoes with their dirt, and decorated my shirt and face with some dirt on a couple of little spills. My count on the seven climbs was quickly confused as my brain was running on fumes. I met up with Alan again at the top of the Pot Hollow trail. I was happy to see him, and he could tell I was in need of a few calories. I tried to eat the Ritz crackers and was able to down 4 or 5, before my stomach violently objected. I felt great (vomitus euphorius?) and was able to run right along to the Pot Bottom.
With 7 miles to go I was 10 minutes ahead of my pace chart, and now barring disaster a sub-24 was in the bag. Alan was entertaining the idea of chasing down the runners in front of us. I was too afraid of blowing-up and opted for a cruising pace. As we hit the road with less than a mile, Alan pushed the pace. I struggled to make the transition to road, but was able to keep up. About 1/2 a mile from the finish, Alan asked if I could smell the barn. I told him that I wasn’t ready to be done. My legs felt great, I was running fast and I wanted to keep going. As I ran into the finish Jessica, Astrid and Mats were awake and cheering from their sleeping bags. I was welcomed in by Erik, Dave, Dave and Carter who had finished ahead of me. I finished in 15th place, running the last 25 miles in 6 hours 22 minutes for a total time of 23 hours 36 minutes. (Incidentally the guy doing the trail work finished quite respectably in the 30 + hour range, and looked happy as he crossed the line.)
After a shower I came back outside and slept along side Jessica, Astrid, and Mats under the moon and stars, occasionally waking up to welcome runners who were coming in. I slept well, satisfied and happy to be back in one piece with my crew.
At the awards ceremony John Grobben’s daughters solidified what I have known about this race. It is about the all people that all come together to pull off an amazing feat, and form the bigger family of this race. It is the friendships that mean showing up to trailheads on cold mornings at hours that are usually unspeakable. Not to mention sacrificing a day of work and a night of sleep to accompany a friend along the trail. (Greg and Alan I am again in your debt.)
I am truly grateful to Jessica for supporting this whole endeavor. I really couldn’t do it without her.
Best of luck to Greg this weekend at the Hundred in the Hood.
Wednesday, September 23, 2009
Looks like there won't be a live webcast but if anyone will be tweeting or such please post in the comments. I'll post something as soon as I hear.
Also, good luck to all the runners getting ready to tackle the Bear 100 this weekend. Looks to be ideal conditions, if not a little on the warm side. Take care and drink plenty throughout the day. The section before between Right Hand Fork (mi. 37) and Temple Fork (mi. 45) is completely exposed and gets awfully hot.
Monday, September 21, 2009
Thursday, September 17, 2009
Monday, September 14, 2009
But things change. Twenty-six years later the shoes came out again (albeit new ones). Was it a midlife crisis? A few extra unwanted pounds? A sense of mortality? Or maybe just an inner sense that we are born to run? Regardless, I started running again and enjoyed it! I wanted to once again run the Wasatch Front 100.
Many things have changed over the last quarter century; the number of runners (who could have imagined the need for a lottery?), the times (anything sub 24 was smokin fast – under 20, no way), the technology (flat Coke with dissolved aspirin was the drink of choice), and perhaps most remarkable, the community and camaraderie among ultra-runners that exists today.
This community and camaraderie has struck me. I know of no other sport where a 48 year ‘rookie’ would be so welcomed, encouraged and embraced. Just 6 months ago I showed up at my first race knowing nobody. Today I consider many of you my best friends. A special thanks to Mandy Hosford who opened the door for me to the Salt Lake ultra community. Jared Campbell who exhibits such graciousness both on and off the course. Erik Storheim who lets me draft him in races. My running buddies Christian Johnson, Greg Norrander, Peter Lindgren and Rich McDonald. And, Ken Jensen who has freely shared his wisdom and knowledge with me (in addition to being the most amazing pacer).
I feel good about my performance this year. I bettered my time by 10 hours, and even managed to place a couple of spots higher. Not bad for an old guy. But more important than the time, and more important than the place is the joy that running brings me. Thanks to all of you who have played a part in bringing me this joy