Saturday, September 15, 2012

Wasatch 2012 - Race Report - Peter

Wasatch 2012

Jason, Robert and me coming into Big Mountain mile 39.
The dust that didn’t make it home in my shoes has more than settled on the “dive” and “plunge;" the 2012 Wasatch 100 is in the books.  This year I hoped to run a little faster than last year.  The plan worked ok until Brighton, but my 2011 splits were hard to match.  In the end I finished 4 minutes slower, but in 4th place.  That's the short version.  

I slept amazingly well the night before, until a dream about waiting for chicken to fry at a fast food restaurant got me out of bed in a flash.  In the dream I couldn’t wait the 20 minutes; I had somewhere to go!  As is tradition, Fred Riemer drove Greg Norrander and me to the start, a location I still probably couldn't find on my own after 11 years.  The mood in the car was calm, no nervous energy.  We knew what was ahead.
Fred Riemer

As the crowd of runners amassed at the start, we saw Andy Yorkin and Dustin Butcher from Gregory setting up their cameras to record the start of the race.  Greg, Jason Berry, and I were all using the sale samples of the Gregory Tempo running pack that will come out in the Spring of 2013.  (Look for a post on this pack in the near future - for now I will simply say I wanted nothing more from this pack.  The Tempo is sleek, comfy, simple and was conceived in our mountains on our trails.)  

The big boys made their way to the front of the pack, along with many others who either wanted to avoid the dust or be in the photos.  The pace out of the gate was too fast for me, and I was happy to let the crowd go.  George Grygar, the eventual 2nd place finisher, passed me after a minute of running.  As he passed I gave him a pat to wish him luck and in an instant he was gone.  

Eventually I caught Greg and Jason, after passing about 8 runners trying to delicately cross a stream without getting their feet wet.  Channeling my inner Wynn Shooter, I stomped through water with little care.  This is a mountain race after all.  Greg, Jason and I settled into a nice pace on the climb to Chinscraper.  By Francis Peak (mile 18), we were perfectly on pace.  To my surprise, at the aid station I had a professional crew waiting for me.  Rick Robinson had my drop bag, a moist towel, ice, and a selection of drinks.  In an instant the trash from my bag was gone, I was stocked for the next 20 miles, and before I could thank him, I was back on the trail eating a Probar as “breakfast”.  

As blood was diverted to the digestion of the Probar, I was unable to keep pace with Greg.  Staying friends with your stomach is more important than running with all of your friends in a 100 mile race.  Lucky for me I was still able to run with Jason and make a new friend on the trail, Robert Mueller.  At one of the aid stations we learned that we were in 11th, 12th and 13th places, which frankly seemed pretty good, but tough, strong guys kept passing us, the out of state guys from the top 10 odds list that Karl Meltzer posts a week before the race.  The day was heating up - no need to waste any energy chasing - I would go on the hunt after dark.  

At Big Mountain (mile 38), I was met by my expert crew- wife and two kids, and pacer/good friend Christian Johnson.  Within a minute I was through the aid station with a fresh pack, ice in my hat, and an 18 minute cushion on splits from last year.  While the day was heating up, a breeze and water to dump on my head kept the heat tolerable.  Again, despite being passed, I kept a conservative pace, with the belief that running hard in the heat means dehydration and poor energy intake, both tough obstacles to overcome the effects of in a hundred mile race.  I lost more time into Alexander Ridge (mile 47) to my 2011 splits, but felt fine.  

Christian delivered me to Lambs Canyon (mile 53) in solid shape, and would join me again for the last 25 miles.  (Did I mention that Christian is a good friend?)  At Lambs I have experimented with different foods, and over the past several years I have decided that baba ganoush from Mazza is a great alternative to the sweet gels consumed during the race.  In 5 minutes I ate as much as I could and started up Lambs Canyon with my next pacer Scott Dickey.  While I initially felt fine heading up the road to the trail, I started to have a vacant feeling in my head.  My brain wanted to go to sleep and it was 5 in the afternoon.  When we hit the Lambs Canyon trail Greg started to run and was gone within seconds.  Robert Mueller and I settled for a conversational pace.  This is when Robert revealed that he needed to be in his lab by 8 AM Saturday morning.  Talk about tough, this was his first Wasatch 100, which he needed to finish under 24 hours so he could get to work on Saturday morning. 

From Bare Ass Pass to Elbow Fork, I kept a steady downhill pace.  The fog that enveloped my brain was starting to clear, but I still didn’t want to run the road to the top of Millcreek.  Things were starting to turn around.  I had banked some energy and my legs felt surprisingly fresh.  John Pieper (Gregory) and John Evans (Petzl) quickly got me through the Millcreek aid station (mile 61), affectionately known as the “Morgue," one of the more common places to end the race and be covered in blankets waiting to be taken home.  

By Desolation Lake (mile 66) I caught one runner.  The ridge to Scott’s Pass went quickly as did the descent to Brighton.  Jessica, kids, and Christian got me out of Brighton with an 11 minute cushion on last year’s split in 15th place.  As Christian and I started the climb, I was cold, and had little energy.  It wasn’t hard to recognize my tank was on low.  There was an easy fix;  I unleashed my secret weapon, the gum drop.  After a few handfuls, we were starting to move.  The descent to Ant Knolls loosened my legs and before long we were running strong.  By the time we left Ant Knolls we dropped to about 10th place.  The “Grunt” took a mere 10 minutes to climb, and we ran pretty much every step to Pole Line (mile 83) along with Robert Mueller.  
Though I didn’t know it at the time, by Rock Springs (Mile 87) I was dead even with my time from last year.  While Christian and I would pass several more runners on our way to Pot Bottom, we lost 2 minutes on last year’s time.  Coming into Pot Bottom (mile 93) we caught Jared Campbell and Greg at the aid station.  I didn’t expect to see Greg or Jared until the finish.  Greg had stomach troubles.  For a guy with an iron gut this was unusual.  Christian congratulated Greg on pushing hard enough to puke.  Jared was coming off his Nolan's 14 run and I suspected was trying to save energy for his Logan to Jackson 206 mile bike ride following the Wasatch race.  Because I thought I still had a chance at last year’s time, I pulled out my poles one more time and pulled away from Greg on the climb.  By the time we hit the downhill my quadriceps were fried, and I was no longer interested in beating my 2011 time.  Christian tried to coax me along, but I was resigned to ending the streak of faster Wasatch times.  

As I ran across the grass under the stars to the finish line, Jessica and kids popped out of their sleeping bags cheering.   I kept my emotions under wrap until I crossed the finish line.  I didn’t want to make a big deal of this to anyone, but I was running this race in memory of my grandfather Virgil who died at the age of 96 a little over a month ago.  When John Grobben, the race director, gave me a hug I got a lump in my throat.  It was moment to remember Virgil.  I think the old farmer would have been proud.

Irv Nielsen, the Prince of Rocks

Bronco Billy, and then the Salt Lake City crew: George Grygar, Ben Lewis, me, Greg Norrander and Jared Campbell
For he's a jolly good runner... Greg "the cheetah" Norrander
Some of the race committee: Joan, Adam, John, Claude and John

John Grobben congratulating Celeste

The Wasatch 100 is a family reunion of sorts for me.  The race committee is genuinely committed to the runners who travel by foot from Kaysville to Midway.   Long after the awards ceremony was over, 58 year-old Celeste came running in.  The race committee was waiting to greet and congratulate her, even though she hadn’t officially finished.  Her sister-in-law told her that she didn’t look so good.  Those of us in the "Wasatch family" looked at each other and then at Celeste.  She looked great, but like she had run 100 miles.  At the suggestion that she didn’t look so good, Celeste dropped to the ground and did a few push-ups.  And that is how tough people in the Wasatch family are. 

100 miles and a few push-ups for good measure.


Nick Sourlos said...

I only know you from reading the MRC all these years (love it). I don't know what it is, maybe it's your focus, execution, and continued improvement on (pretty much) a single race every year, but man...I like your style.

Christian said...

Well done Peter. I truly had a good time trying to keep up with you on the trail.
While the streak of faster and faster Wasatch's may have ended I still don't think we have seen your fastest. Plus, the Cheetah streak is alive and well. Virgil would have been proud. Congratulations!

Greg said...

Congratulations Peter on your 11th finish and 4th sub 24 hour finish. In my mind you are the Zen Master of the Wasatch 100. I predict even faster times from you in the future.

Jay said...

You blew through Pot Bottom so strong and fast, then attacked that final climb with such zeal. Absolutely impressive!

peter said...

Nick - Thanks. One of these days I am certain we will meet on the trail.
Christian - Best of luck this weekend at Virgil's Crest. I have a faster Wasatch in me, this just wasn't the year.
Greg - I just try to emulate your calm strength and perseverance.
Jay - I was thinking about the email that you sent before the race, as I went by at Pot Bottom, and wanted to prove that you were right.

Cory Reese said...

Great race report and awesome pictures!

Congrats on finishing a tough one.

jun said...

Peter, congrats on a great race. Thanks for taking the time to come and say hi. It was appreciated. Your whole family looked fresh and happy, including you. Maybe one of these years I'll get to join you all in the Cheetah club. I only need to shave 25 minutes.

Abbie said...

Pete: Amazing, absolutely amazing. As I finish out my preparation for the marathon, I'm going to use you as extra inspiration. I am in awe and am so proud of you. Congrats!

KyleM said...

I know I'm commenting on an old post but I have ran Wasatch the last two years. I improved 6 hours from the first time I ran to the second time I ran it but I still don't have a clue to what I'm doing training wise. Any chance I could pick your brain on training? Please let me know if that would be possible.

Best regards,