05 October 2011

Hallucination 100 Mile race

This race is local for me and so I was excited to be running it because that meant I'd know a lot of the runners personally. In addition there were a few locally that I knew from dailymile and get to meet some I'd only previously metthrough Facebook or Dailymile. I got to the run woodstock commune at about 1PM and picked up my race packet. I misunderstood where I could park and so I had to move a few times. After getting settled in I turned in my drop bag and wandered around to catch up with people and meet new ones. At about 320PM I changed into my running gear, body glided everywhere, pinned on my bib and headed to the start line. I was a little nervous about my shoes. This race I
was running in the Altra Instinct a road shoe with a slick bottom and no rock plate. With the forecast for possible rain I was worried about the Altras. I can't wait for their trail shoe. Other than that all my gear was typical: 2water bottles, zoot top, bottom and visor. My biggest concern going into this race was my stomach. It's failed me on my last two races. I eat a lot and when I can't keep downing a lot of fuel things derail pretty quickly for me. I always get a little intimidated standing around a start line of an ultra. Some of the people that show up at these 100 milers look like they were carved from stone, not born. Fortunately this is counter-balanced by the amazing friendliness of ultra runners. I really like
the 4PM start idea. It's very nice to run the dark portion of the race while my legs and mind are still fresh.

Loop 1 2:47 finished at 647 PM
Fuel: 6 gus, turkey & cheese, pb&j, potatoes, pringles

The first loop was warm and the trail was in excellent condition with just 2 muddy spots that I remember. I ran and chatted with several runners. The lead pack broke off early and I let them go. I ran this loop a little faster than I had wanted to but it felt so effortless I figured it was probably alright. Every aid station I rolled into was manned by familiar faces which was awesome.

Loop 2 3:10 finished it at about 10PM.
Fuel: 6 gus, turkey & cheese, pb&j, potatoes, pringles, coffee, chicken noodle soup

Just a few hundred yards into the second loop Dale noticed I hadn't grabbed my headlamp from my drop bag and reminded me. So i had to go back and got a lot of funny looks from people who had just cheered for me heading the other direction. I ran into another runner Eric that Dale saved in the same way a mile down the trail and that poor guy had to go all the way back. The rain started during the 2nd loop as I recall but the traction remained good through most of this loop. I ran it with Dustin Smith for the most part(I think).

Loop 3 in 3:50 finished at about 2am.
Fuel: 7 gus, turkey & cheese, pb&j, potatoes, pringles, chocolate cake, coffee, chicken noodle soup

During the 3rd loop the rain really started to come down hard. puddles and mud started forming and the trails turned to creeks. This was the first time I used an ipod during a race and it was kind of nice because with the downpour I couldn't see anything and the rain dominated all the other sounds as well. There were a lot of people experiencing headlamp failures and I think it was non-waterproof headlamps. This was also the time when I starting lapping a lot of runners. I ran into Sandi Stiner on this loop which was awesome because I've known her on FB for awhile but hadn't met her. I also ran into Peter and Jeff and they both looked great, stopped for a brief chat with them. I also cross paths with N'gai and he was running strong. I think this was the loop when I passed Mark and Tony and it was really nice to see them.

Loop 4 in 3:48 finished at about 6am
Fuel: 6 gus, turkey & cheese, potatoes, pringles, chocolate brownies, coffee, vegetable noodle soup

The downpour continued for this loop except for one break which offered a brief glimpse of the moon. On this loop I started pushing the pace because I was getting cold and trying to strike a balance between fast enough to keep warm and not falling and breaking my neck. I ran headfirst into a clearly marked tree branch that I had easily avoided on the first 3 loops and ended up flat on my back in the mud. Fortunately it hit me square in the head which is very thick. I laid there for awhile laughing at myself and looking at spots and then got up and continued on. I didn't mention it to anyone at the aid stations because I was worried they might want to check me for a concussion or pull or delay me. I really should carry a spare headlamp. if I'd broken mine at this point I would have had to walk this entire loop. My next mistake on this loop was a wrong turn which had me running against traffic in an area where I knew I should not be seeing other runners coming from the other direction, including my friend Dale. I backtracked and corrected my turn but it cost me 3 miles and ate my increased effort on this loop :(

Loop 5 in 3:30 finished at about 830am
Fuel: 6 gus, turkey & cheese, potatoes, pringles, vegetable noodle soup

I think this is about the time the 50 milers started passing me. It was both awesome and a little discouraging to see the lead pack come by so fast. Ben was the only one I knew from this group and It was nice to see him running strong. The next 50 miler I recognized was Melissa running her first 50 and looking strong. At one point Jon and Heather yelled at me and I chatted with them for awhile. They were both running really strong and soon left me in their dust. I also saw Fritz and Jessica on this loop and on my last loop as well.

Loop 6 in 3:30 finished at about 12.
Fuel: 7 gus, turkey & cheese, potatoes, vegetable noodle soup

This was a hard loop for me. I ran into Jessy on this loop and it was pretty awesome to see her and she ran with me for a couple of miles. I had to firmly encourage her to go run her race. I didn't want her sacrificing it for me. I think this is also the loop when I ran into Delilah and met her for the first time. about 6 miles from the finish Laura Waldo came on really strong and went flying by me. She offered me some S-caps when she saw me stretching out my hamstrings which was super nice. Ultra runners are exceptionally friendly and polite compared to other endurance athletes but this was over the top! Stopping to offer help to the person standing between you and 3rd place? Exemplary sportsmanship. When I merged with traffic from concurrent marathon and half marathon racers I started to pick up the pace motivated by them.

Non-loop specific things
Playlist artists: Violent Femmes,Fugazi, Breaking
Benjamin, Linkin Park, Disturbed, Beastie Boys, Insane Clown Possie, Cake,
Weezer, Offspring, Raconteurs, REM, Sublime, Social Distortion, Gorillaz,
Gnarls Barkley, Iz, Agent Orange, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Loudon Wainwright III,
Paul Van Dyk, Tiesto, The Pogues

frogs ... It seemed like there were frogs and/or toads everywhere. after nearly breaking my back doing contortions to avoid stepping on one I gave up on that. Apologies to all the orphaned tadpoles out there.
When I finished it was nice to see so many familiar faces. It took some convincing to get my buckle from the people at the finish line. I'm not sure what that was about! Jessy was awesome and helped me with getting the mud washed off my legs and helping me get to the shower and then she had to get going because she was taking her daughter to a waterpark. After she left I walked down to the start area where they were serving food. I was talking to my friend Dawn when I nearly passed out, she noticed I looked very pale and got me help. Andrea, Rick, Bill, and Rachelle grabbed me, got me in a chair and
started me drinking and eating and taking S-caps. They stayed with me the whole time and made sure I was OK. I felt really weak. After about 2 hours I recovered and was fine. I missed some people finishing because they wouldn't let me out of my chair but it was for the best. I had planned to drive home but everyone I talked to seemed certain that was a really bad idea and so I stayed and slept in my car. Joe and Becca took me to get something to eat in Pinckney which was awesome. Thanks guys! The rest of the night I spent just hanging out with friends and listening to their race experiences. This was an awesome event and the only 100 mile race in Michigan. I'll definitely run it again. I'm sure I missed people and event details which will come to me later, I apologize. Thanks for reading!

01 August 2011

Burning River 100 Miler 2011

I rode down to the Burning River 100 race with a group of friends: Matt  Antoniou, Paula Antoniou, and Mark McCaslin. We stayed at the Sheraton in  Cuyahoga Falls, OH. The front door of the hotel is about 200 yards from the  finish line which makes it an excellent place to stay if you are running this  race. After checking in to the hotel we headed over to the pre-race dinner and  race check-in. There were a lot of familiar faces at the race and we met some  new people too. Race bling was a really awesome black hoodie! The Pre-race  dinner was pasta and salad. I don't think the meatballs sat well with me.
The morning of the race I woke at 0212. I ate a banana, fig newtons, 2 cake donuts, and 24 oz of coffee. We walked to the finish line where the bus picked  us up at 0315 and took us to the start line. I milled around, talked to more friends and waited for the race to start.
I started the race carrying 2 handhelds and wearing my nathan "pocket vest". It's  a vest with no hydration bladder. I went out a little too fast trying to keep up with Matt and Mark but decided pretty quickly I didn't feel good about their pace so I let them go and backed off.
Through the first 3 aid stations things were quiet and uneventful. I ran with and  talked with several runners. There was a lot of gravel and paved road in the first part  of the race.
I entered the shadowlake aid station at 18.6 miles. I had a drop bag there but didn't need anything from it. I decided to drop my vest, one of my water  bottles and my shirt there. It wasn't all that warm yet but it was very humid and I felt like I was sweating a lot.
Between Shadow Lake and Station Road Bridge it really started warming up and my  appetite started to fade. Station Road Bridge was my first taste of what a Burning River aid station could be like. All the previous ones were great but I hadn't really utilized them. Someone came out to meet me and get my water bottle  and fill it with heed. Another person asked if I wanted my drop bag. I said yes and he went and got it and brought it too me. I wanted to change socks because my feet were drenched from sweating. By the time I had my socks out of my bag another volunteer had brought me a chair to sit in, while another asked me what I'd like to eat brought it to me. 
My shoes had started to blow out on the sides and I had ignored it. Unfortunately this led to a shift in pressure from the widest point of my foot to my pinkie toes which would become an issue later. Another issue I had with the shoes was that the inflexibility of the rock plate was bugging me on the road sections of the course, and there are a lot of road sections on this course!
By the time I got to mile Boston Store aid station(49.1 miles) the heat(92F) and humidity had started to kill my appetite and I was behind on fueling. I  should have been at 20 gus and I'd only gotten down 12 at this point. My feet were also killing me. I took my shoes off and my friends helped me do some repair work and I used some duct tape to wrap the blown out section of my shoes.
The section from 49.1 to 53.5 miles was exposed and hot. My pacer Keith joined me at Boston Store after this section. It was great to have company and along the way we talked about my feet. Keith suggested I cut off the section of the shoe that was putting pressure on my foot. So at the pinelane aid station  that's exactly what we did. then I used more duct tape to cover the holes and keep  rocks out. It was a huge mental boost to have the pressure relief for my feet.
I ate some ginger candy and tums which became a ritual at aid stations from there on out. Every time I refueled after this my stomach would fight with me. For the  most part discomfort was minor: heat, blisters, fighting to not throwup much needed fuel.
Keith and I alternated chatting and periods of quiet. I felt really low on the inside but Keith seemed to think I was doing well. At Covered Bridge aid station I stopped and did more duct tape repair work on my shoes and then we ran a loop which returned us to covered bridge. This was my lowest point during the race. I hallucinated briefly about the woods being filled with RVs and crowds of people watching us. The crowd was what I imagine you might see at a nascar race. Potbellied beer drinking men sitting in front of their RVs in folding chairs watching us run through the woods. I remember thinking it was bizarre that they would want to watch people run through the woods at 2 in the morning but in that moment it felt very real. When we got back to Covered Bridge aid station I had some soup and felt much better. Ramen noodles are awesome in the late stages of an ultra. After this I started feeling much better and did quite a bit of running but I was very quiet. After saying nothing for quite awhile I informed Keith,"My legs are tired". This drew a chuckle from Keith and then we both broke into laughter over my statement of the obvious.  The last portion of the race went quickly as I was feeling much better. I still couldn't eat much and that slowed me down but I was able to keep hydrating and taking electrolytes fortunately. I crossed the finish line in 23:40ish and all my friends were there waiting for me. 
This was a wonderful race for me aside from the fueling struggle. The Burning River race organization, aid stations, and volunteers are the best I've experienced anywhere! If you're looking for a first 100 miler I highly recommend this one. The aid stations are extremely well stocked and the course is very scenic.

20 June 2011

Mohican 100 Mile Race Report - 2011

This was my first 100 mile race. I chose it because because it is 95% technical single track and hilly. It has had a 50% DNF rate over the 22 years it has been in existence and this year it had a 66% DNF rate, with numbers like that you know it's a quality event :). The race director, volunteers, participants, and aid station  fare were all top shelf. I'll be back to do this race over and over again!
cw-x compression shorts
white brooks equilibrium short sleeve shirt
white brooks hat
white buff
Double Layer Wright Socks
Injinji Socks
New Balance MT101 shoes
Dirty Girl Gaiters
36 gels: gu and hammer
Bananas, PB&J, Oranges, Watermelon, Potato Soup, Ramen Noodles, Pretzels
I didn't realize the start of this race would hit single track so fast and bottleneck when it did. If I'd known that I would have gone out fast to avoid being stuck behind people. The starting temperature was around 60F and it was extremely humid/foggy. I ran with Keith for awhile but let him go because I wanted to run conservatively and he was running a pace for a 50 mile race. The first loop went flying by. I met and chatted with a lot of great people. A couple of guys I met and ran with for about 20 miles,Jeff and Eric, had run the copper canyon ultramarathon with the Tarahumara last year and went to high school with Todd Crandell. I met another guy who was using the 100 mile race as a training run for the Hard Rock 100 who could have probably been a professional comedian - he had a one liner for everything and just kept rolling a steady stream of jokes and conversation. The Park Road 51 aid station was being operated by a friend of mine Stu Allen and he was doing a great job! They served heed,water, defizzed pop, hammer gels, bananas, oranges, watermelon, gummi bears, m&ms, potato chips, twizzlers, and more. The exit from this aid station was a steep downhill followed by some hard climbing and then onto some very beautiful rolling single track. In this section we passed several large boulders that made me wish I'd brought a crash pad and chalk bag. I gave them a quick feel and they were a nice strong pocketed sandstone.
After that the next aid station was the MTB parking aid station. It was packedwith lots of people who were crewing for their 100 milers so there was lots of cheering when you came out of the woods at this one. I suspect they were having a cheer loudest for the dorkiest looking runner contest in order to pass the time. I had them refill my hydration pack with heed while I ate half a PB&J and a banana and then took off.
The next part of the course was my favorite because it was very technical and beautiful containing both Lyon Falls and the Root Ladder ravine - some pics of the area here http://bit.ly/mlpE3Z. The next aid station was the covered bridge aid station which was excellent. They had more food than all the other aid stations. They knew how to refill hydration packs wicked fast. After leaving Covered Bridge aid station there was a redonkulous quad burning hill to climb to the Hickory Ridge Aid Station. This was another excellent aid station.
The last leg of the loop back to the start was rather evil. It ran past an area where you could see the starting area and into a small loop with the steepest hills on the course. This was a new section of the course and the reason they added 2 hours to the cutoff. It was brutal but I hope they keep it, it was a nice challenge.
Back at the starting point/aid station 1 I took off my shoes and socks and checked my feet: No blisters, no hot spots. I wanted to get an actual visual on my feet even though I felt no discomfort because a lot of the time I don't notice a blister when I get one and from what I've read and conversations I've had with other runners blistering can get bad enough to take you out of an ultra. I continued to do this every time I hit aid station 1 throughout the race.
The next noteworthy event was getting lost and picking up a bonus mile on the second loop. It was totally my fault. I followed 2 runners down a trail and didn't read the sign. then I realized we were heading north too soon into the second loop and told the guys we had to turn around. sure enough when we got back to the intersection it was clearly marked and our mistake. This loop simply repeated the first loop so I'll switch to some highlights of the second loop now.
When I got back to the area near Lyon Falls I crossed paths with a family on a short hike. The temperatures were in the mid 80's and the children looked about 4 and 6. they were crying and fussing and complaining about being hungry. I stopped and offered them 2 clif bars which they accepted. we chatted briefly about the race while the kids ate clif bars and within 2 minutes they transformed from meltdown posessed freakshows to happy little hikers. As I was leaving I heard the 4 yr old girl mention that they should carry a pack full of candy and run races - never to early to start recruiting :)
I ran alone for quite awhile after that. the next thing I remember was meeting a young guy named Ethan who was cramping. I explained to him what S caps were and why he should be eating lots of them and I gave him some. He was very grateful for the advice and the S caps. I hope it was enough to help him finish.
My next encounter was a lady running the marathon version of the race. she was on the verge of tears and/or had been crying and was exhausted and sure she was lost. she had turned around and was going the wrong way because she thought she had missed a turn. I got her oriented and back on track and walked with her until she seemed ok.
At mile 53 I picked up my pacer, Andrew Harding. Andrew has been a great source of inspiration as I've learned about ultra running. It was great to have Andrew along. I don't know if I could have done this without him. On the third and 4th loops they altered the course to remove Lyon Falls and the Root Ladder from the course and add some less dangerous terrain. The whole 3rd loop went really well I thought. At Covered Bridge aid station they had ramen noodles and they tasted ridiculously awesome. I was starting to feel a little low coming into the aid station and those noodles were a huge boost! I felt like I was running strong until a few miles into the 4th and last loop and then I got tired, dizzy and had to stop and sit/sleep for 5 minutes. That helped a little and then I was able to continue on to the 1st aid station. Once I got there I drank about 24 oz of mountain dew, ate some soup, and then sat in a chair and slept for 10 minutes. What a difference! once I got up I was able to run again and felt much better. As we ran sometimes Andrew and I chatted but a lot of the time I was silent. We got a little lost on the 4th loop but only added a 1/2 mile. we back tracked and got back on course.  When we popped out at the fire station aid station another racer was pestering us because he thought we had just shorted a section of the course when in fact we had scored some bonus mileage. I wasn't think clearly and Andrew and Dave( a friend we met on the trail) talked to him and sorted it out fortunately, because in my state of diminished mental capacity I was trying to figure out if punching him or silently ignoring him would make him go away sooner.
I know Andrew said I looked strong the whole time but I sure didn't feel that way. I think I've found my second running super power,the first being stupidity, the ability to look strong right up until I collapse. It helped a lot towards the end when the sun came out. The last section of the course had the crazy climbs and one intense quad burning descent again. It isn't perfect and I know I'm missing stuff but I need to get this out there. The finish was awesome and the buckle is a really nice one. I think i'm really hooked on the 100s. In the last 4 miles I was already thinking about when I should do my next 100.
I'd like to thank Andrew for pacing me and Keith and Pete for crewing for me during and after finishing the race and helping me get my gear and drop bags after the race and packing up my tent and just being awesomely supportive the whole time.